For a revealing history of how African Americans broke into professional and managerial corporate jobs during the 1960s, one need go on further than the book Black Corporate Executives: The Making and Breaking of a Black Middle Class by Sharon M. Collins (Temple University Press, $9).
A largely academic work, Collins’ book explores the foundation of affirmative action and equal opportunity programs, which provided avenues through which blacks could succeed. But, points out Collins, most of those opportunities existed on the fringes of the corporate hierarchy. As African Americans were mostly relegated to staff positions such as community relations and EEOC officers, whites continued to get line and profit-generating posts that put them on the fast track to the top.
Collins also examines how the public policy and opinions of the ’60a that opened these doors to African Americans have done a 180-degree turn today, and are assaulting the very programs they created.