A recent Coalition meeting addressing Black employment in construction throughout the city and Addison Terrace in particular brought back memories.
The coalition was called the New Deal Coalition for Economic Parity and Justice was composed of CEA head Rashad Byrdsong, American Workers Union head Calvin Clinton, Khalid Raheem, Judy Ginyard and others.
I wasn’t in the city during the Nate Smith era, but I read a lot about him. I have been here since the early ’70s and there’s always been an ongoing battle to get Blacks employed as laborers as well as trained to be skilled laborers at every major and minor site in the city. But for some reason, it has been an ongoing battle with a few successes and many failures.
What can be done to correct this problem?
Being a homeowner, like all homeowners, we are always in need of contractors. But it’s hard to find a Black contractor. I remember when my home was gutted by fire, I searched high and low, asking the top civil rights groups in the city about Black contractors, but nobody knew.
So I ask again, how can we remedy this problem?
Well, we can start by putting together a listing of large and small Black contractors, carpenters, plumbers, roofers, electricians, heating and cooling people, etc., as well as general contractors; a listing of contractors who can do the big jobs as well as those able to do the small jobs. Listings of those that only do commercial, or only residential as well as those who can do both.
If a major contractor were looking for subcontractors this would be a great list for them to have, as well as us homeowners who are trying to find dependable Black contractors.
This would eliminate the year in and year out excuse that “we can’t find Black contractors.”
Maybe Phil Petite can put it together, instead of the dream book he has been putting together the past few years. Enlist additional help from Calvin Clinton, Rashad Byrdsong, Tim Stevens, Hop Kendrick, Bill Robinson, Amanda Green, Irv Williams, Jake Wheatley, Ed Gainey, Joe Preston, Rev. Ricky Burgess, R. Danny Lavelle, the Urban League, the NAACP and others who have been fighting this fight from way back in the day. I still remember Swampman Williams and the fight he led for Black labor inclusion.
Let’s stop making excuses and start by being a part of the solution, I know there needs to be more, but this would be a great beginning, because how can we hire Black contractors if we don’t know who they are, or where they are?
(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)