by Chinta Strausbergon Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 3:36pm ·

Hat’s off to Ed Gardner for waking up the black sleeping giant


Sunday’s march is not a one day event



By Chinta Strausberg



Hats off to retired business icon Ed Gardner and two of his closest advisors, former Chicago Public School Supt. Dr. Manford Byrd and author/historian Lerone Bennett for helping Gardner plan the Sunday September 30th historic jobs rally being held at 3 p.m. at 95th and Western.


While Mr. Gardner has called on 10,000 people to join him in calling for more jobs for African Americans on these construction sites, if only 5,000 showed that would be great because it would show unity of purpose but more important it will awaken the black sleeping giant.


Chicago has not seen such a movement from blacks since the 1983 and 1987 mayoral election when Harold Washington became the first black Chicago mayor and the first mayor re-elected since the late Mayor Richard J. Daley.


It took a highly energized and angry black electorate to sweep Washington into office and in 1987 he won again though that black turnout was not as high as in 1983. Still, Washington was re-elected.


The demand for jobs and the visible proof that blacks are being unfairly treated on the construction sites is fast becoming a lightening rod that could become an embarrassment to Mayor Rahm Emanuel who keeps talking about checking to see if contractors are in compliance. The issue is quite clear in fact as clear as a goat's tail going up a high mountain at high noon. Blacks are fast becoming an invisible race in Chicago's workforce and very visible in its Cook County Jail and prisons throughout the State of Illinois.


But, then what do you expect? You have drugs continuing to be dropped in the black community. African Americans don't grow drugs and they do not own boats or planes that bring them into the United States. Somehow, these contraband end up in mostly black and brown communities.


And, to add insult to injury, now you have gunrunners flooding the same targets, black and brown communities, with weapons of mass destruction. Unlike drugs, these products are responsible for taking the lives of innocent children and owning a gun has replaced the "badge of honor" of going to jail or prison.


Both the drugs and the guns are destroying mostly black and brown families are responsible for the revolving prison doors and a high number of funerals in Chicago and across the nation. They are taking out the bright lights of these communities, our children, our future.


Saint Sabina's Father Michael L. Pfleger had it right on Saturday, September 22, 2012, when he showed the world that that by planting seeds of love among Chicago's purported throw-a-ways can harvest a crop of peace that is helping to transform the minds of gangbangers whose loyalty was only to a smoking gun and whose badge of honor was another body bag. Thank you, Father Pfleger for your persistence in seeking a one-day peace accord and to have representatives from four street organizations in the Auburn Gresham community play on a basketball tournament game.


You showed those youth, one of whom played against a team member who six-months had shot him, that they can co-exist as one and that the boundaries of streets need not define their lives or agendas.


Father Pfleger also got 28 jobs for them, offered them free enrollment in his GED program and an offer for other social service programs that will be the beginning of the rest of their lives. I thank you for that...for showing the world that what God made is not a throw-a-way. It is like a flower that needs attention, nourishment and a lot of love.  Thank you, Father Pfleger, for your true, sincere and honest love and may those youth make you and the world proud of their transformation.


Having been in the street life for years and while they may stumble, I know you will be there to catch them and guide them right back down the right road. You can do that because you have proven to them that you love them. Who and which minister would go up into gang territory late at night day-after-day talking to and encouraging them to make a change in their lives. You showed us that these youth are not killers at heart but rather "mixed up kids," as Asa "Duce' Powell recently said. Powell was one of those gangbangers in that same community who ultimately was sentenced to 8.5 years in federal prison on a drug conspiracy charge.


When Powell got out of jail, he said the police hounded and harassed him and as a graduate of the Saint Sabina Academy, luckily he went to Father Pfleger who met with the police of that district and told them to leave him alone. Fortunately, the police listened to Pfleger and today Powell is the largest promoter/marketer in the Midwest and in Las Vegas. Love is the weapon of peace.


When Sunday's march is over, time will tell if Chicago's African American community is fed up with the unfairness that exist on these job sites, or if they were just looking for a cause. Will they roll back over and go to sleep, or stand with Mr. Gardner as he presses for similar jobs on Chicago's construction job sites? Only time will tell, but if blacks go back to sleep, they will again be taken for granted which is why today they don't have the number of jobs and contracts other ethnic groups have. The future of the African American generation and its success is literally in the hands of each black in Chicago and don't think the world isn't watching what will be the outcome.


Black people, are you for real, or are you just looking for a cause for the day? We shall see.





Retired business icon Ed Gardner has started a movement in the black community by demanding jobs for African Americans on construction sites staffed by mostly whites and Hispanics.

Acclaimed writer/historian Lerone Bennett, Jr. is working closely with Mr. Gardner on helping blacks secure their fair share of the contractual pie in and outside of Chicago.

Also a close friend of Mr. Gardner, Dr. Manford Byrd is helping map out plans to secure job equity for blacks. All three have helped to awaken the powerful black sleeping giant that annually spends over $1 trillion a year but mostly among other ethnic groups.

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