In June of 1941, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, banning discriminatory employment practices by Federal agencies and all unions and companies engaged in war-related work. The order also established the Fair Employment Practices Commission to enforce the new policy.
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’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