BUFFALO, NY – Fighting back from the massive stroke that paralyzed him in 1995 wasn’t the first war waged by Sherman Turner, a master plumber for the Small Business Administration. His first and ongoing battle is with what he calls the “Wall Street money contractors” that discriminate against African Americans like him in the construction trades.
In the just-released Minorities Deceived: The Sherman Turner Story, Part I, Turner shares his experience of deceit and racial discrimination.
The SBA originally agreed to partner with a large, white-owned contractor on a project assigned to Turner’s oversight. When the contractor began discriminating against minorities in its hiring and training practices, the SBA quietly asked Turner to do the job alone – an act that would spark a war of sorts, Turner says, since the larger contractor controlled the unions and suppliers, and had financial resources far greater than the local SBA office did.
“What happened to the report of bad behavior filed by the SBA with the Buffalo District director’s office? Was it lost or misplaced? Or was it ignored?” Turner still asks today.
That experience, along with other forms of discrimination he has experienced, made Turner into an advocate for minorities in the construction industry. Minorities Deceived shines a light that he hopes will inspire minorities to overcome obstacles and communities to hold federally funded construction projects accountable to the regulations intended to prevent racial inequities.
“Still today, 70 to 90 percent of the mighty Wall Street money contractors still will not stop discrimination practices because of the lack of enforcement,” Turner says.
The author was able to write the book only after traveling to Kenya and learning to speak African Kiswahili, or Swahili.
The stroke that paralyzed him also took away much of his memory. His doctor recommended learning another language to help restore proper brain function.
About the Author
Sherman L. Turner of Buffalo, N.Y., was a master plumber and minority contractor for the Small Business Administration. Paralyzed by a massive stroke in 1995, he traveled to Kenya to try learning another language, at his doctor’s suggestion, to aid his recovery. At the Kenyan School of Languages and Rehabilitations, he learned the African language Kiswahili, which helped improve his memory and make Minorities Deceived: The Sherman Turner Story, Part I possible. Kenya: Rehabilitation, Part II is also available.