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Reflections on Affirmative Action in Construction

Reflections on Affirmative Action in Construction

by Paul King

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 04/09/2009

Reflections is a collection of my writings through the years in defense of and support for Affirmative Action in the construction industry. It documents a struggle for economic justice that began on July 23, 1969 when Chicago community groups assembled to demand equal participation in local federal construction projects. As these programs became successful, resistance rose at a rapid clip. Who would have thought that our quest for economic justice would eventually reach the Supreme Court as a battle against "reverse discrimination?" Who would have believed that the "affirmative action" programs that integrated an exclusive white workforce, and provided new opportunities for Black firms would be challenged so vigorously that the term would not even be used by the 2008 presidential candidates? We share our experiences for others seeking change by providing examples of how Black businesses can address community problems, including educating elected officials and holding them accountable. It was though my membership in Parren Mitchell's (Maryland's first Black congressman-1971), Black Business Braintrust, that the first national legislation requiring mandatory Minority Business Enterprise [MBE] utilization was forged. This book emphasizes four main areas of concern: Affirmative Action as a tool to break the pattern of exclusion by construction trade unions and apprenticeship programs. To demonstrate that local organizations with dedicated leaders can combat discrimination and create positive change that reverberates nationally. To expand the Black tradesmen workforce as a vehicle for increasing Black subcontractor numbers and developing substantial Black general contractors. The development of viable black construction firms: UBM, Inc., which I co-founded in 1974, was by 2004, the largest Black general contractor in the state of Illinois. My firm accomplished everything I sought to prove as a black business by creating the capacity to apply positive solutions to problems besieging our community.
Business & management
Paperback / softback
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United States
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