Today, President Biden issued an Executive Order, revoking the Trump administration’s “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping” (“EO 13950”), issued in September 2020. The now-revoked order took aim at federal agencies, U.S. military institutions, grant recipients, and contractors – forbidding them from engaging in speech activities, including workplace trainings, that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, and conditioning federal funding on adherence to a prescribed, ahistorical belief system. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) worked with civil rights partners to immediately issue a statement signed by over 120 organizations demonstrating the widespread opposition to EO 13950.
In October 2020, LDF filed a federal lawsuit against former President Trump and the U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of the National Urban League and the National Fair Housing Alliance to challenge EO 13950 on the grounds that it violated the guarantees of Free Speech, Equal Protection, and Due Process – fundamental rights secured in the United States Constitution. The complaint was amended in January 2021 to add the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED) as a plaintiff, as well as several additional federal agency defendants.
EO 13950, also known as the “Trump Truth Ban” and “Equity Gag Order,” was also roundly criticized by hundreds of organizations, professional and trade associations, and institutions across the country and gave rise to the #TruthBeTold campaign, a joint initiative of the African American Policy Forum and LDF.
In response to today’s revocation, Janai Nelson, LDF’s Associate Director-Counsel, released the following statement:
“The Trump administration’s Executive Order was a sweeping attempt at historical revision and unprecedented censorship in the workplace. It was a ban on free speech, freedom of expression, and critical thinking, and an attempt to erase the lived experiences of people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. In the few months of its existence, it negatively impacted the lives and livelihoods of countless Americans and advanced the dangerous cause of white supremacy and disinformation.
“We applaud the Biden-Harris administration’s swift revocation of this divisive and harmful Executive Order on its first day in office and are encouraged by its commitment to embedding equity in all aspects of federal government and removing barriers to equal opportunity for all communities. We will continue to work to ensure that all vestiges of President Trump’s Executive Order are removed from workplaces across the country. There is much work ahead to undo the previous administration’s four years of damage to the institutions of our democracy, the everyday lives of Americans, and the very fabric of our nation. LDF will remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure racial justice and equity for Black communities across the nation and we look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to make this a reality.”
In addition, National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said: “President Biden’s reversal of the executive order is a clear and welcome sign of his commitment to racial justice and equity in the workplace. We look forward to working with his administration to put that commitment into action.”
Dr. Richard Baker, President of AAAED, stated, “We applaud the Biden Administration for articulating unequivocally the need for our government to embrace its role in identifying the roadblocks to equity and inclusion, including systemic racism and the more subtle obstacles that have a disparate impact on disadvantaged minorities and other groups. We commend the President for seeking a holistic strategy to remove these barriers to equal opportunity in federal programs.”
“We look forward to working with the Biden Administration to ensure that the vestiges of the Trump order are removed, root and branch, from the affected agencies responsible for enforcement of the order, and that our members are supported in their efforts to promote access, equity and diversity,” added Shirley J. Wilcher, AAAED Executive Director.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.