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Executive Order 8802: Prohibition of Discrimination in the Defense Industry, June 25, 1941

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Courtesy of National Archives, "Executive Order 8802," 25 June 1941


In early July 1941, millions of jobs were being created, primarily in urban areas, as the United States prepared for war. When large numbers of African Americans moved to cities in the north and west to work in defense industries, they were often met with violence and discrimination. In response, A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and other black leaders, met with Eleanor Roosevelt and members of the President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Cabinet. Randolph presented a list of grievances regarding the civil rights of African Americans, demanding that an executive order be issued to stop job discrimination in the defense industry. Randolph, with others, threatened that they were prepared to bring "ten, twenty, fifty thousand Negroes on the White House lawn" if their demands were not met. After consultation with his advisers, Roosevelt responded to the black leaders and issued Executive Order 8802, which declared, "There shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries and in Government, because of race, creed, color, or national origin." It was the first presidential directive on race since Reconstruction. The order also established the Fair Employment Practices Committee to investigate incidents of discrimination.

Transcript of Executive Order 8802

Source-Dependent Questions

  • In what industries does Executive Order 8802 end discrimination? Why does President Roosevelt use an executive order and not push Congress to pass legislation to ban discrimination?
  • How does the order address concerns in the "Why Should We March" pamphlet? How effectively does the order address these concerns? Did this lead to long-term expansion of rights? Why or why not?

Citation Information 

"Executive Order 8802," 25 June 1941. Courtesy of National Archives