On July 12, in conjunction with a number of other people, I attended a meeting at the Hillman Auditorium. Those in attendance generally were premature critics, frustrated unemployed laborers and business people, elected officials, appointed officials and a number of people who question the validity of programs allegedly designed to help Blacks and women.
My personal assessment of the meeting is that for the first meeting it went well. It has been 12 years since I had an opportunity to play a significant role in helping Blacks and women be provided with an opportunity to share in the American dream, the potential to grow a business.
I met with two individuals whose assessment of MBE/WBE programs I value and they said, “The programs have no teeth. They basically are, for a lack of a better term, are good faith [never good enough]. The statement made by the mayor of Pittsburgh that Pittsburgh did not monitor their contracts [MBE/WBE] was absolutely shocking and in my estimation borders on criminality.
As I listened to the opening remarks made by Rashad Brydsong, Calvin Clinton and Jack Reynolds it carried me back to a number of years ago. There were a number of proud, angry, determined Black men, who were fed up and decided they were not to take it anymore. Three stand out: Nate Smith, Swampman Williams and Cody Bolden.
There are some professional critics who would argue that the wrong people are out front, but history proves that conditions oft times dictate who will lead the fight for positive change. The substantial changes that were made over a number years did not occur solely because there were well educated eloquent speakers, but because of a multitude of other actions this nation had never envisioned Blacks participating in.
I was a guest on Chris Moore’s program on KDKA last Sunday and several White callers stated, “I fail to realize that this is 2012 and the not 1960.” Another said he doesn’t care and a third stated “we Blacks want hand outs.” Even J.T. called and said, “Outside of one Black contractor Pittsburgh has not produced any other competent Blacks.”
I close this week’s column with the old, old saying, “This is not 1960, and truly much as changed. But the tragedy is in the year 2012 too much remains the same.”
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(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum page.)