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Wed, 06.25.1941

The Fair Employment Practices Committee created

*On this date in 1941, the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) was created.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the FEPC by signing Executive Order 8802.

This was a great advancement for African-America initiated mainly by three people/organizations. Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters President A. Philip Randolph, NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White, and National Youth Administration Minority Affairs Director Mary McLeod Bethune were instrumental in forcing FDR to address the issue.

The order banned racial discrimination in any defense industry receiving federal contracts by declaring "there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin." The order also empowered the FEPC to investigate complaints and take action against alleged employment discrimination. Randolph, working with other civil rights activists, organized a 1941 March on Washington Movement to protest racial discrimination in the defense industry and the military.  This threatened to bring 250,000 African Americans to Washington to demonstrate against congressional resistance to fair employment.

FDR sent his wife Eleanor and New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to negotiate with March on Washington leaders. His wife returned, telling her husband that their plans were firm, that only an anti discrimination ordinance would prevent what promised to be the largest demonstration in the capital's history.  Mrs. Roosevelt urged her husband to act for both moral and political reasons. He agreed, but would only go so far.  He agreed to have the FEPC prohibit discrimination in defense plants, but he refused to address the issue of segregation in the military, which had been Randolph's original concern.

Library of Congress
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Washington D.C. 20540


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