The Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) is a committee established by American President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941. The Fair Employment Practices Commission was designed to help prevent discrimination against African Americans in the defense and public service. The implementation of this order has resulted in some positive changes for African Americans.


On June 25, 1941, Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, which prohibits “discrimination in employment in the military or public service on the grounds of race, creed, color, or national origin. At the same time, a Fair Employment Practices Committee was established to facilitate implementation of the Executive Order.

Roosevelt took these actions in response to concerns expressed by African American leaders, such as organizer A. Philip Randolph, Mary McLeod Betune (Director of Minority Affairs in the National Youth Administration) and others, who expressed dissatisfaction that black soldiers were fighting for the United States in segregated units of the military and returning home to a society that continued to violate their basic rights.

Following the signing of the executive order, many African Americans have sought defense assistance. However, the industry as a whole refused to cooperate, which led Roosevelt to strengthen the FEPC in 1943 by increasing the budget and replacing part-time staff in Washington, D.C. with full-time staff throughout the country.

By the end of World War II, in 1945, African Americans held 8 percent of jobs in the defense industry, compared to 3 percent before the war. In addition, about 200,000 African Americans held government jobs, three times more than before the war. Most jobs were relatively low-paid, unskilled.

After World War II, the U.S. Congress discussed making the FEPC permanent, but two bills intended for this purpose were lost. In 1945, the Congress, most of whose main committees were headed by southerners, stopped funding FEPC, which was then officially dissolved in 1946. It took another 20 years before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which dealt with many of the same issues, was established.

At the end of the war, political leaders debated whether the FEPC should be retained as a government programme. In 1946, the U.S. Congress voted against maintaining the FEPC. In 1946-1948, two bills were submitted to Congress calling for the creation of a permanent FEPC.

Both bills were unsuccessful. In 1948, President Truman sent a package of civil rights documents to Congress calling for the creation of a permanent FEPC, but Congress refused to accept it. In 1950, the House of Representatives approved the permanent FEPC bill, but senators from the South prevented its adoption. The FEPC was never transformed into a permanent government institution.

In the end, the Fair Employment Practices Committee had not put an end to racial discrimination in employment during the Second World War, but it had had a lasting impact in that era. It had opened some doors, as many more of its cases had been based on denial of employment rather than on denial of professional development or discriminatory working conditions. It was clear that he had helped blacks enter industries, firms and professions that might otherwise have remained closed to them.