Father Of Affirmative Action Leaves Unparalleled Legacy

Arthur Fletcher etched the blueprint for black inclusion in corporate and educational institutions
While boycotts dominated discrimination resistance tactics, civil rights activist and Republican Arthur Fletcher manipulated public policy to attain economic parity.

From football star to presidential candidate, Fletcher’s titles are extensive. But it’s the federal anti-discrimination hiring plan Fletcher devised while he was Nixon’s assistant labor secretary that shapes his legacy as “the father of affirmative action.”

“Fletcher was a Renaissance man in that he was always forward-thinking. He never was deterred in his goals,” says Harvey Jones, an international marketer who worked under Fletcher until July, when Fletcher died of a heart attack at 80.

An adviser to four presidents, Fletcher helped increase minority employment and entrepreneurial growth. As part of the Nixon administration, he helped bring about the Black Capitalism Program, which established the Minority Business Development Agency, instituted federal set-asides for minority firms, and increased deposits for minority banks.

Christopher Baker, CEO of Shirlington Limousine and Transportation Inc., the first black company to have an exclusive Department of Homeland Security contract, credits his success to Fletcher.

“He gave minority businesses not only the confidence to get the capital but the morals to believe in their ability to run an effective business,” says Baker.