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By Donald W.R. Allen,II – Editor in Chief/IBNN and USA Radical Black
On Thursday, May 6, 2010 at the Heritage Park Community Center in North Minneapolis the National Association of Minority Contractors held their monthly meeting.
The National Association of Minority Contractors-Uppper Midwest (MN), is a Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors, a nonprofit trade association established in 1969 to address the needs and concerns of minority contractors. NAMC-UM was established in 1984, and serves Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.
From the NAMC website, the organization is “an advocate for minority contractors, NAMC-UM actively monitors legal and legislative issues at state and local levels, helping to eliminate the barriers that hinder the work of minority contractors. The organization acts as the eyes and ears of its members, and regularly reports on key issues affecting minority contractors’ business operations.“
If this is the case, why hasn’t the organization addressed the compliance numbers on the Minnesota Twin Stadium and how was Mortensen allowed to “self-report” without compliance checks done by the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights –Contract Compliance Unit?
With board members who are part of non-profits that actively seek out their own funding streams, rather than assist the NAMC build capacity for contractors within the organization, it seems that the NAMC will be doomed until new aggressive leadership is in place.
IBNN attended this meeting to address issues and concerns about the lack or unseen ability of the NAMC to hold the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Transportation accountable for contract compliance, a trend that has been going on for more than 17 years and MnDOT alone.
Cities like Cleveland have had the same problems with state and local compliance that resulted in productive peaceful protests. Results remain to be seen. Articles like, “Why are no Blacks Working,” shows a growing trend across America of the exclusion of Black men and women in the construction trades in an era of a Black President.
Something is very wrong, and it’s time someone speaks up!
On Friday, May 7, 2010 – in a letter to NAMC President Carlo Lachmansingh from NAMC member Lynwood C. Smith, a contractor who owns Lynwood & Sons Construction Services LLC, a start- up union affiliated construction firm signatory with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, Carpenters Local Union No 1382, and the Laborers Local No. 405 – voiced his concerns about the meeting and the struggle that continues today for Black contractors.
Mr. Smith writes, (Unedited):
As a voting member of the NAMC I found yesterdays meeting very serious, very intense, and very disrespectful to our members, and guests, and to you as well and I will tell you why.
I am a third generation African American construction worker making the transition from heavy equipment operator to owner, and in building my organization I don’t have to tell you how much work is involved, you and the members already know. We have to fight and struggle with the powers that be and then come home (THE MEETING) and have to fight with each other just ain’t gonna work, and you already know that again. Together we stand and divided we fall, many motto’s of unity but they don’t mean a thing if we can’t make them work for us.
Those two Black men in the back of the room Lennie Chism and Donald Allen are leaders in the Black community who say what needs to be said, they ask the tough questions, and they dare to hold organizational and political leaders accountable for their actions. These men are cut from the old Civil Rights Leaders clothe because they remember how hard it was for our families in this country, and in our neighborhoods no matter where you were from, it was the same! Some of those Black leaders names you may know by heart and others we will never know there names but they fought, lived and died not only for Blacks but for all races who were being down trotted, kept back, stepped on, lynched, killed, set on fire, bombed, raped and everything else you can stand to remember, and what some would say at will and those responsible were never even held accountable to this day and given the thumbs up for job well done!
Now we’re in what some want to believe a new era of history because a few have gotten educations, jobs, homes in the suburbs, wealth and doing well know, but that’s not for most, that’s only for a few, and I do mean a few!
What kills me is when a man like Salaah an immigrant can stand up in our meeting and make such ugly, harsh, combative remarks to the point where it seemed like he might even attack the Black men mentioned earlier, is outlandish, insulting, disrespectful and everything else, he even yelled in a disrespectful insulting tone at you, the President of the NAMC!
Salaah didn’t get to where he is because he is so handsome or brilliant he and others like him got to where they are off of the hard work, labor and sacrifice of my people…Blacks, the American Indians, the Hispanics, the Asians, and yes, Whites who knew that the way we all were being mistreated was wrong, and change had to take place or else, it all was going to burn down.
I don’t know if you can really remember back to when you were building your organization, and I don’t know if you had some cash flow but for me I have gotten to where we are by creative means and by not taking the advice of the Salaah Tarrafs, the Tim Kennedys-MEDA, the Elizabeth Campbell’s-Ryan Companies, I don’t take their advice for a lot of reasons, mainly because they can’t comprehend nor understand the passion and dedication that people like me have when doing what we do! You would think these people would be encouraging you on, offering real assistance to help you get up and going like the Anita Bellants of the world, but by design they feel compelled to talk to you out of it! By design they choose to spin you, see if you will falter, send you to someone who they dam well know can’t help you cause they need some help too, and ain’t got it like they use too!
This is what the Salaah’s of the world do, then stand up and insult two intelligent, articulate Black men who I and others like me, consider to be Giants and Heroes in our community, because they challenge and stand up for us when nobody else will, they stand up and fight for us when we are too tired because we usually busy building our organizations, and they, Lennie Chism and Donald Allen are the ones who will fight for our causes when no one else will, not even the Urban League and NAACP!
The real shame is that these guys ain’t striving to be millionaires!!! They really don’t do it for the money, they do it because they really, really love their people and communities and want to see some real change, just not lip service! One of our Great leaders Fredrick Douglas said when asked what should we do when confronting the White man and holding him accountable to the promise of the American dream he said “Agitate, Agitate, Agitate”! Fredrick Douglas was a Presidential advisor on Black affairs in America.
Carlos, I have talked to some contractors Black, White, Red and everything in between and they say to me that I must be crazy starting up at a economic time like this, because when we started it was economically nice out here! I say, I’m a real entrepreneur, I have no where else to go but up, and I have chosen what I will be doing when I return back to God, and that is creating and building something, contracting and doing business, this is what I have done my entire life!
The fight and the struggle will always be for all of us, and as far as I am concerned those two men should be given honor ray associate memberships for the work they put in advocating for us, because when then win for one of us they win for all of us!
I won’t be as disrespectful to tell a President what to do as my brother Salaah did the other day, but I will suggest this, we have got to get stronger and place key strategic pieces in place to hold the powers that be accountable for their actions, make them share the wealth, include us, offer us a seat at the table of brotherhood!
And let me say to those who advised me not to create my organization, I forgive you and hold no grudge against you, because some of us see the glass as half empty and some of us see it as half full and if any of you would like to take a change of mind and heart and offer some real assistance and advice my ear and door is open.
Visit my new website and look at what one of your newest members who hasn’t even gotten his first contract is doing, support me, help me get a Mentor-Protégé relationship so that I can create jobs and opportunities in our communities!
Lynwood C. Smith
www.lynwoodandsons.org – website
firstname.lastname@example.org – email
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IBNN is humbled by the word from Mr. Smith and we support and respect his views and opinions. At some point, organizations design to “bridge the playing field” must start to work. The NAMC is a valuable organization that must become more aggressive to achieve maximum results. Cordial and diplomatic relationships have fallen on deaf ears, except those who are around to “guide” funding suggestions to their own personal non-profits, which is happening now.