CHICAGO (CBS) — African-American business pioneer Ed Gardner met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday, to discuss Gardner’s complaints about a lack of blacks on South Side public construction projects.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Gardner, the retired founder of Soft Sheen Products, said he had a good meeting with the mayor at City Hall.
Gardner has led a number of protests at city construction sites recently, after seeing no African American workers on the crews. He said the mayor seems intent on changing things for the better.
“They know that I know I’m not satisfied; the history of how blacks have been eliminated from construction sites in the city of Chicago,” he said. “It must be corrected. I told the mayor, as far as I’m concerned, he is totally and finally responsible to seeing that this situation is corrected.”
LISTEN: WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports
Gardner said he’ll only be satisfied when African Americans make up at least half the workers on city construction crews in black communities.
The law doesn’t require that, but Gardner said he told the mayor there are laws, and then there are people.
“Whatever the laws and rules are, the mayor has a responsibility. If they’re preventing black Afro-Americans from getting their fair share of job opportunity, that is his responsibility to see that it’s changed,” Gardner said.
He left the meeting optimistic that the mayor would do all he can to improve the hiring of African-American construction workers, as well as black-owned contractors.
“The mayor seems to show some sign of being concerned about making a change. That’s all I’m concerned about, that things are not like they have been for the past many, many years in the city of Chicago,” Gardner said.
On Sept. 24, Gardner and a small group of protesters temporarily halted work on a shopping center in Evergreen Park, demanding the private contractor doing the work hire African Americans to join the construction crew.
Earlier the same day, the demonstrators had marched at the site of a city sidewalk project on 95th Street in the Beverly neighborhood, where Gardner said there were no black workers, but plenty of whites and Hispanics.
Gardner also staged a larger protest on Sept. 30, when about 1,000 people stopped traffic at 95th and Western, near the site of both earlier protests.