June 18, 1941 A. Philip Randolph forces President Roosevelt to issue an executive order banning racism in hiring in the military and defense industries

Asa P Randolph

Union organizer and social activist A. Philip Randolph in 1941 was so frustrated with segregation in the United States’ military and pervasive discrimination in defense industries that prohibited Blacks from benefiting from the skilled, well-paying jobs they provided that he planned a march on Washington to protest that segregation.

On June 18, in a meeting at the White House with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, NAACP secretary Walter White and the National Urban League’s T. Hill Arnold, he demanded that the president intercede. “Our people are being turned away at factory gates because they are colored,” he said. “They can’t live with this thing. Now what are you going to do about it?” Randolph insisted that the demonstration, which Roosevelt desperately wanted to avoid, would go on unless the president issued a “strongly written” executive order.

His hand forced, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which prohibited employment discrimination in government and the defense industries and created the Fair Employment Practices Committee to monitor hiring.

BET National News – Keep up to date with breaking news stories from around the nation, including headlines from the hip hop and entertainment world