WASHINGTON, -- The National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. has recently received contracting data from the U.S. Department of Transportation concerning federally funded highway projects. Nationally, Black contractors only participate in 1.1% of the total federal dollars allotted through state departments of transportation.
There are twelve states (Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Vermont and Wyoming) that do no business with Black contractors at all. California, New York, Texas and Florida don't do much better. "California, which is 54% minority, is indeed the poster child of this disparate impact," says NBCC President/CEO Harry C. Alford. "They get $2 billion annually and do their best not to include minority business in their business activity, particularly Black businesses. The state does 0.1% (one tenth of one percent) with Black contractors and they wear this bigotry with pride. Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) and the local chapters of the Associated General Contractors organization stand vigilant to make sure no Blacks are allowed," according to Alford.
The Federal Highway Administration forwards over $29 billion to all states and territories to provide service and maintenance to their highway infrastructure. Much of this revenue is generated from gasoline taxes derived from the gas pump. Therefore, the funding comes from everyone including the population that is 14% of the total -- African Americans. The NBCC says the demand is for representation. That representation will result into business growth and job creation. Lack of representation feeds economic deprivation and unemployment.
"It's time for action," says Alford. "I am encouraged by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. I believe he has no tolerance for the situation he inherited and has begun action in Missouri and California already. But time is of the essence and from the bottom up we will have to organize community activity. You might see some interstates being temporarily shut down by civil disobedience to illustrate the severity of this crisis. The courts are disingenuous when they can see these numbers clearly but come up with excuses to not deal with it. It is like the Dred Scott Decision where the U.S. Supreme Court justified slavery. They are justifying bigotry and economic apartheid here."
The spreadsheet showing the report, state by state, is here or go to www.nationalbcc.org.