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It is surprising how little has been said about the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) court victory over the Association of General Contractors (AGC). For years, the local chapter of this basically “white” contractor’s association has fought every effort to give any percentage of local government contracts to so called “minority” contractors. The Court of Appeals ruling upholding; race and sex based preferences to African Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans and women owned firms on certain transportation contracts by the California Department of Transportation (CAL-Trans) should be considered a opening of doors to such contracting that have been virtually closed to the named groups in recent years. Small business owners should be looking very closely at all contracting agencies from the state to the county, to the cities within the county of San Diego and especially to the City of San Diego itself, which has new leadership in purchasing, thanks to Mayor Bob Filner.

This is a good time for the affected communities to take a close look at how they might partner with the local NAACP Chapter in similar law suits to stop some of the turning back of the clock on Civil Rights gains currently underway. For example in the 1970’s the City of San Diego’s Police Department found itself under a consent decree because of the lack of minority police officers. Today after having experienced Blacks at all levels of the San Diego Police Department, including a Deputy Chief, there appears to be no recruitment efforts to replace those officers who are leaving or have left the department through attrition; will it take legal action to make this chief of police address the issue? Today, claims of discrimination in the work place are no longer as easy to litigate as they once were because of the shifting of the burden of proof to the victim in many cases. Who is speaking up to tell African Americans that the bringing of “wrongful termination” action in the workplace represents an effective alternative, if the case can be made. Now is the time to look at all contracting entities and work place complaints and make it known that court action is still an option of the NAACP and that the people who support the organization are not afraid to finance such litigation, if necessary. We must remember as Thomas Jefferson said that “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.” Let’s not go to sleep on our victories.

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