Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Decades after helping elect Chicago’s first African-American mayor, Edward Gardner pushing for diversity on job sites - Chicago Sun-Times

Mark Brown followed the protest from Ed Gardner  - who owned Soft Sheen Products and more recently House of Kicks in addition to a foundation he founded Black on Black Love - on Monday. Many of us should've know about it if you've received e-mail blast from your community based organization. Gardner himself resides in the West Chesterfield neighborhood.
What do you if an 87-year-old African-American man in a dingy nylon windbreaker and pink ball cap hobbles onto your construction site with the aid of his cane, parks himself in the middle of traffic and declares he wants all the work stopped until more black workers are hired?

If the man is named Edward Gardner and you’re trying to do business on the South Side, then you at least slow things down enough to figure out your next step.

That’s what happened Monday when Gardner, the founder of Soft Sheen Products, led an impromptu protest at a job site at 92nd and Western in Evergreen Park, where new Meijer and Menards stores are being built on the site of the old Evergreen Country Club.

Gardner’s name may not be quite as well-known as when he helped lead and finance the movement that made Harold Washington this city’s first black mayor in 1983 and later served as a key member of Washington’s kitchen cabinet.

But Gardner’s place as a business and political icon in the Afri­can-American community is firmly enough established that his soft-spoken voice still carries a certain gravity when he chooses to raise it.

That’s what made this more than your garden-variety demonstration when Gardner — rarely heard from in recent years — announced he would disrupt a city sidewalk construction project along 95th Street on Monday morning to express his disgust over seeing no African-American workers on the job when he drove past last week.

Also perhaps some of you saw coverage of this protest on ABC7 yesterday. [VIDEO]

You may have also seen him on WBBM recently talking about his protest and making more plans for more protests. Do you agree with his efforts? Do you think there is more we can do to insure more blacks gets jobs on construction projects around the city?

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