Monday, February 18, 2013

Reflecting on the Presidents Behind Our Landmark Civil Rights and Employment Laws

Today is President’s Day, or, as it is officially called, Washington’s Birthday.  We also celebrate Black History Month each February, making this month a time for reflection on the long history behind our country’s efforts towards achieving equality in the workplace.  In honor of both President’s Day and Black History Month, I’m sharing the list below of Presidents who were in office when our country passed some of its landmark federal civil rights or employment laws, along with some interesting facts about each of the Presidents who played a role in the history behind our current workplace laws. 
Wishing you happy reading and a happy President’s Day!
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President:
·        Issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863
·        In office when the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, was passed in 1865
·        Born in a one room log cabin; mostly self-educated; kept goats as pets in the White House
·        Assassinated in 1865
Andrew Johnson, 17th President:
·        One of four Vice Presidents to become President due to his predecessor’s assassination
·        42 U.S.C. § 1981, which prohibits race discrimination in business contracting and employment, was passed in 1866 over President Johnson’s veto
·        A self-educated tailor; kept white mice as pets in the White House
·        First President to be impeached and kept his office by only one vote
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President:
·        Signed the National Labor Relations Act into law in 1935
·        Signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law in 1938
·        Forced to wear a dress until he was 5; married his cousin, Eleanor; contracted polio at the age 39; had Scottish Terriers as pets in the White House
·        Only President elected to four terms
·        First President to name a woman, Frances Perkins, Secretary of State, to his cabinet
John F. Kennedy, 35th President:
·        Signed the Equal Pay Act, prohibiting gender discrimination in pay, into law in 1963
·        Youngest person to become President at age 43 and first Catholic President
·        In office during the civil rights movement and sent federal troops to support the desegregation of the University of Mississippi
·        White house pets included hamsters, cats, birds, and ponies
·        Assassinated in November 1963
Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President:
·        One of four Vice Presidents to become President due to his predecessor’s assassination
·        Signed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act into law in 1964, prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin
·        Signed Age Discrimination in Employment Act into law in 1967
·        Appointed first African American , Thurgood Marshall, to the US Supreme Court
·        First President to appoint an African American, Robert Weaver, HUD Secretary, to his cabinet
·        Kept beagles, hamsters, and lovebirds as pets in the White House; liked to take visitors for 90 mph rides in his Lincoln Continental at his Texas ranch
George H. W. Bush, 41st President:
·        Signed the 1989 law that established the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday
·        Signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law in 1990, prohibiting disability discrimination in employment
·        In office when amendments were made in 1991 to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §1981, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
·        Former Director of the CIA
·        Asked for President Nixon’s resignation in the name of the Republican Party
·        A book was published about his White House pet, a Springer Spaniel named Millie, and there are reports that Millie had her own room at the White House
Bill Clinton, 42nd President:
·        Signed the Family Medical Leave Act into law in 1991
·        Youngest governor when elected as Arkansas Governor at age 32
·        Second President to be impeached
·        White House pets included Socks, a cat, and Buddy, a chocolate lab; reported to have sent only 2 emails while President; known for playing the saxophone and jogging
·        Only President to have his wife later run for President
Barack Obama, 44th and Current President:
·        First African-American President
·        Signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law in 2009, extending the time period for individuals to pursue gender-based wage discrimination claims
·        First President born outside the contiguous United States
·        Teenage dream was to play basketball, and high school nickname was “Barry O’Bomber”
·        White house pet is “Bo,” a Portuguese water dog

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