A Letter from Clifford L. Alexander, Jr.
Chairman of the EEOC, 1967-1969
When I was confirmed and sworn in as Chairman of EEOC we had 247 employees. They certainly made the place hum and contributed mightily to the fight against discrimination in employment.
While I was Chairman, the regional office structure at EEOC came into full bloom. Regional office employees were trained so that they were able to accomplish several thousand more investigations and conciliations. While we all were familiar with the importance and righteousness of our work, I saw to it that our investigators understood the importance of completing their caseload in a timely fashion.
Our Commission held two historic public hearings in New York and Los Angeles which focused significant public attention on the indignities in the workplace against minorities and women. Immediately following the hearings the first black person ever to appear on network television news was hired. Leading newspapers made a concerted effort to place minorities in their professional workforce. Advertising and entertainment companies were exposed for their failure to hire blacks, Hispanics and Asians. Additionally, West Coast defense industry companies were encouraged to initiate their first significant employment of women and minorities.
During my tenure as Chairman, our workforce tripled in size and displayed a rare love for this important work. The staff exhibited a passion for fairness.
Perhaps the major challenge during my time in office was getting employers to understand how much more needed to be done to give women their fair share of employment opportunities. We opened many eyes and had the strong assistance of many leaders outside of government, leaders who insisted that Title VII be given the respect and support it deserved. Congress (most specifically the late Senator Everett Dirksen) had stripped cease and desist authority from the Commission. We were left with only the power to conciliate. Yet we had supplemental "power" from fair-minded members of the media, advocacy organizations, and friends in the legislature. Most importantly, we had a friend and constant ally in the person of Lyndon B. Johnson. We were able to establish clear definitions of what constituted discriminatory behavior in the workplace. This provided an important foundation for the many dedicated employees at the EEOC who followed in our footsteps.
See also: Chairman Clifford L. Alexander's bio