From Pasco, Washington to Washington, DC: Arthur A. Fletcher and the American Dream, 1965–68
A former pro-football player (the first black on the Baltimore Colts), in 1965 Arthur A. Fletcher was a widowed father barely making ends meet as a special-needs schoolteacher in Oakland, California. He came to Pasco to run a Great Society minority training program, and he soon founded the East Pasco Self-Help Cooperative Association. The Coop sponsored a black-owned service station, a childcare center, and a truck-bed construction business, and instituted a neighborhood watch program. Pasco never saw a riot, and Fletcher won a seat on the city council (tied for the first black in the 20th Century to serve on any city council in the state). He lost a tight race for lieutenant governor in 1968, but attracted the attention of President-elect Richard Nixon, who was seeking a civil rights position which would jibe with his party's corporatist ethos. Appointed Assistant Secretary of Labor, in 1969 Fletcher implemented the Revised Philadelphia Plan, earning himself the title “father of affirmative action.” He went on to head the United Negro College Fund, advise three more Republican presidents, and serve as chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.
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