Considering we built the Capitol and White House, why can’t we get government contracts?

Associated Press reporter Jesse Holland’s lavishly documented new book describes the role that African-Americans, often working without pay as slaves, played in building the United States Capitol. Black workers have also been involved in the construction of the White House.
However, the number of black construction workers and companies has been shrinking for a decade.
Their trade association reports, “The journey of the National Black Contractors Association is to build a unified national black contractor association that speaks as a voice of one on national concerns, where inequities and the perception of discrimination is apparent in public and private contracting for African American contractors. Publicly funded projects are mandated to promote equal opportunity for qualified, ready professional building contractors who meet local city, county, state and national standards under the jurisdiction of the state that receives funding threw federal and state taxation. The national black contractors association is positioned to provide national collative leadership to lobby government and state political leaders to uphold and make changes where necessary to improve the quality of life for all citizens of America. Private corporate America have a moral obligation to promote and support equity in hiring, training, and contracting when depending on public support or doing business with the public in anyway, shape, fashion or form, as a good corporate citizen.”
Government spending notwithstanding, there are many private property owners who need new construction or renovation, including churches and non-profit groups.
Our suggested activity on Thursday, Aug. 13 is to get a quotation from an African-American contractor. This may be the sector which has the greatest impact on the quality of life in our communities.
Researchers have shown that one of the effects of the increased numbers of African-American mayors and local government officials in the 1980s was an increase in black construction self-employment.
Back then, folks who had been working for others got the support to work for themselves. The fiercest opposition to black economic progress, however, has been from white construction companies who have waged a number of law suits and funded initiatives against supplier diversity.
But those opponents can not stop you from hiring a black contractor to fix your leaking sink, pave a driveway, extend a deck or paint your apartment building.
With new government subsidies, you can also ask them to install solar panels, seal leaking windows or upgrade heating and cooling systems.
Once again, we can stimulate jobs and growth in our community using money that in many cases we would spend anyway.
Walls Come Tumbling Down: State of Black Business, sixth edition shows how most states have declining numbers of black construction workers, a profession that has traditionally brought many families into the middle class.
Public policy changes can help, but in the meantime, be an example and make the call.


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