(Photo: Carl Stokes stands with minority contractors and small business owners at a rally outside City Hall on Monday to oppose Project Labor Agreement legislation before the Baltimore City Council)
(BALTIMORE – March 11, 2020) – Of the individuals running for Baltimore City Council President, one is extremely refreshing especially as it relates to my favorite topic: Black business. A maverick? Perhaps. On-point? Absolutely! He’s a lone wolf, a rare breed on the political scene who, moreso than his opponents, really and truly understands that if the politics do not translate into the economic development of our communities, then it’s all for naught.
At a recent debate, Carl Stokes out-shined his opponents by miles. He spoke about an issue that ought to be of paramount importance to anyone running for citywide office in Baltimore, that is, if they are serious about fixing Baltimore. Carl Stokes spoke vehemently about Black business and the innate responsibility of any City Council President to work to ensure that Black businesses eat. It’s that simple.
On Monday, Stokes was at it again as he stood proudly with Black contractors at City Hall who oppose a proposed Project Labor Agreement legislation currently before the Council. The bill is viewed as a major impediment to progress for Baltimore’s Black contractors, one that empowers everybody but Black folks.
The City Council President sits on the Board of Estimates and has critical say on contracts every Wednesday morning at City Hall. Hence, Stokes insists that the City Council President must serve the people. Period. Truth be told, it’s long overdue for Black contractors, who have historically missed out on business opportunities for a number of reasons, to finally get a fair share of the contracts without interference.
People can say what they want about Mayor Marion Barry, but the people of Washington, D.C. loved this man to no end. They embraced him because he embraced them. It was mutual. One thing he was known for was helping the Black businesses of the District grow. He also helped a lot of White businesses, too. He understood that everybody has to eat.
Here in Baltimore, on the other hand, we are still stuck in the 1950s, if you ask me. We are still bedeviled by historic practices that have only strangled the life out of people. Sure, Baltimore has a lot of rich people. But, too many people in East and West Baltimore deserve attention, too. And that in a nutshell is Baltimore. We feed the White L, but starve the Black butterfly, which includes poor, White people.
Baltimore is a majority Black city, yet only a small portion of contracts go to Black contractors. Why?
Why, in 2020 when you have a plethora of Black elected officials, are Black contractors still being overlooked as in the days of old when Black legendary business advocates extraordinaire like Robert Lee “Bob” Clay and Arnold Jolivet, Esquire used to fight like dogs at City Hall for Black contractors simply to get a small piece of the pie?
Carl Stokes makes Black Baltimoreans proud, if you ask me. And White people ought be proud, too, that finally someone is telling the truth – for that is the only way we can heal the historic wrongs of the past that have long needed attention.
When Black businesses grow, they can hire more Black people and that means less people will have to turn to illegal means to get by. We can’t arrest our way out; we have to invest our way out. We have to ensure that our businesses are getting what they need. Supporting Baltimore’s Black contractors is only common sense, and apparently, Stokes could be the only candidate for City Council President who actually gets it.