Introduction: Affirmative action affects three major areas: education, employment, and public contracting. Affirmative action is intended to ensure that opportunities in these three areas are equal for all people regardless of race or gender. Affirmative action involves a set of public policies and initiatives designed to help eliminate past and present discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. According to Jonathan Segal writing in HR Magazine (2003), the goal is to correct the under-representation through actively seeking out qualified women and minorities to fill job openings. Even this activity is not without risk. A recent Supreme Court decisions relating to the University of Michigan does not resolve whether and when a company can focus on race in hiring decisions (Segal, 2003, 123).
According to Wilbert Jenkins writing in USA Today Magazine (1999),it was obvious that racism and discrimination against blacks in the area of education and, by extension, the workplace were huge obstacles that needed to be overcome if African-Americans were ever going to be able to become part of America's mainstream. In the 1960s, affirmative action became a part of a larger design by President Johnson's War on Poverty program. The original intent of affirmative action was not to provide jobs and other advantages to blacks solely because of their skin color, but to provide economic opportunities for those who are competent and qualified. Due to a history of discrimination, even those with outstanding credentials were often locked out (Jenkins, 1999, 60).
Affirmative action programs have been subject to legal challenge for more than a decade. They are criticized by opponents as unlawfully discriminatory. The key constitutional question was how far the state may go to ensure equal employment opportunities. The Supreme Court has upheld affirmative action programs to remedy past racial discriminat