There has been prejudice towards those who are not whites males in America since its founding in 1776. It was a time when blacks could be taken from their home lands and brought to a foreign land to be bought and sold as legal property. It took women over a century to receive the right to vote with the passing of the 19th amendment in 1920.
Women and minorities were given constitutional rights that were refused to them for many years, but they continued to be discriminated against. Because of skin color or sex, people were not treated as equals causing a clear uneven playing field in education. The Civil Rights movement was making great strides when affirmative action was first introduced in the early 1960's. The practice of affirmative action has been at the vanguard of intense debate more than any other time in its fifty-year period. The emotions involved in the controversy over preference are powerful and often partisan. A growing number of programs including quotas, preferential hiring, minority scholarships, and reverse discrimination have all been linked to affirmative action, which aims to break down the wall in education and the workplace.
The ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 established the segregationist "separate but equal"" standard in general. The other decision was Cumming v. Richmond Board of Education in 1899. The ruling applied the standard to schools as well. Brown v. Board of Education did not overturn Plessy v. Ferguson because it dealt with education as opposed to transportation, but it set in motion the future of overturning the "separate but equal" standard.
Seven years later John F. Kennedy was elected president and became the first pioneer of affirmative action with intentions to create equal opportunity for all qualified persons. President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925. It included a provision that government contractors take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regards to race, creed, color, or national origin (Wolley, 1).