In an attempt to redress the wrongs done to blacks through hundreds of years of slavery and racism, affirmative action programs were implemented in many segments of the society. Affirmative action was designed to give minorities more accessibility to jobs and educational opportunities that they had been previously kept out of. In Chicago, a quota system was established based upon the ratio of blacks and whites in the city’s total population. Once the ratio was determined, a certain percentage of new employees in the police and fire departments had to reflect the numbers found for that racial group in the city’s survey.
Gradually the quota system moved into the higher education arena. Because institutions of higher learning are heavily funded with government money, it was imperative that were in accordance with the stipulations set forth by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. This title forbids discrimination in any activity or program that receives federal financial assistance. Medical schools were among the first in education to institute quotas. Prior to the 1960’s, most medical students in the U.S. were white. To provide opportunities for minorities who were previously unrepresented, or under-represented, medical schools would preserve a certain number of class positions for minority applicants.