Executive Order 8802 Establishing the Fair Employment Practices Committee, June 25, 1941
Early in 1941, A. Philip Randolph, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), along with other African American leaders, threatened to lead a march on Washington of 250,000 African Americans to protest job discrimination. As a result of this pressure, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued this executive order establishing the President's Committee on Fair Employment Practices which declared that “there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin.”1 The FEPC was not legislation passed by Congress, but it relied on that body for funding. Its enforcement powers were limited, and compliance depended on the goodwill of the employers. Due to political considerations, the executive order did not address the issue of segregation. Conservative and southern opposition to establishing a permanent FEPC after the war resulted in the failure of bills put forward for that purpose in 1948 and again in 1950.
Executive Order 8802 was the first commitment by the federal government to oppose racial discrimination in the workplace. Despite its many limitations, the FEPC mobilized African American and Mexican American leaders to seek federal assistance in fghting racism.