Affirmative Action: A Reference Handbook by Lynne Eisaguirre

By Lynne Eisaguirre

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President Bill Clinton in a 1995 speech on the subject recommended mending, not ending, affirmative action. His high-level government commission on the subject agreed, although their proposal received little popular support or notice. Other supporters, such as law professor Lani Guinier, argue that the policy should go further, that affirmative action should be used as an opportunity for all organizations to look at the whole question of merit, testing, selection, and promotion to determine if current methods will provide the best mix of people for the job or school.

During the 1970s, young Japanese Americans in California started to organize to demand redress for the losses experienced by their parents when they were interned in concentration camps during World War II. They helped organize a movement to insist that the nation apologize and pay reparations. Similarly, during the 1970s, advocates of women's rights sought passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and repeal of anti-abortion laws, started to raise the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and schools, and pushed for an end to other forms of discrimination.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Chicano (Americans of Mexican descent) activists, inspired by the slogans of black power, studied Chicano history and constructed a politics demanding voices and places for Mexican Americans in venues of power, as well as pressuring for larger enrollments in colleges, curricular changes, voter registration drives, and so on. In 1969, nearly 600 American Indians, representing more than 50 tribes, took up their own cause in the civil rights renaissance. The Native Americans occupied Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay and issued a Proclamation to the Great White Father and All His People.

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