Jesse Jackson: 'We need action'

Jesse Jackson: 'We need action'

CHICAGO — The Rev. Jesse Jackson says he is looking into the University of Illinois’ record on granting contracts to minority- and female-owned businesses.

Jackson made a surprise appearance at Thursday’s UI Board of Trustees’ meeting but didn’t address the board. He watched a few minutes of the proceedings before heading out into the hall.

Later, he told The News-Gazette that he wants to gather information about UI contracts, to ensure there’s “equal access for blacks, Latinos, Asians, men and women, an equitable share of those.”

He said he will use the information to “make a presentation at the appropriate time. Not today. We’re collecting information now.”

He said he had talked about the issue with some UI officials as well as local contractors who had sought UI contracts.

The state’s Minority and Female Business Enterprise Program, known as MAFBE, is designed to ensure that businesses owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities are included in the procurement process. UI trustees adopted a mission statement in January 2012 to double its spending with MAFBE-certified businesses or other “diversity suppliers.”

Patrick Thompson, a Champaign-Urbana contractor who addressed the board during its public comment session, said he believes the UI is committed to those goals but hasn’t made enough progress over the last five years. He is president of VEYA Inc., a Champaign concrete construction company and a certified minority business enterprise.

Thompson urged the UI to consider set-asides and target markets for minority contractors.

“As a local contractor, I’m tasked with trying to create diversity and getting young African-Americans in the unions and construction project,” he said. “Without that opportunity to have small set-asides or target markets, you’re not going to really see us grow.

“I’m here today to ask this board and this university to take a look at this,” he said. “Make some changes so that I as a contractor can do my part as a construction owner.”

Trustee Patricia Brown-Holmes said afterward that the university wants to be inclusive with its contracts and supports the idea of contractors generating more jobs in the minority community. But she said she’d have to learn more about Thompson’s specific complaint before commenting.
“I don’t know what the issue is,” she said.

Jackson said UI officials have been “open to talking, but we need action, and a plan for those goals and timetables,” he said.

Shelley Davis, a senior adviser at Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition, said the organization has also called on corporations and other entities to release numbers on their contracts, to “make sure they have fair and balanced opportunities for all suppliers.”

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BruckJr wrote on November 10, 2016 at 9:11 pm

Jesse Jackson?  A little pay back Jesse?  You probably should have studied just a little bit more while at the univesity.  You might have lasted more than a year.

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on November 10, 2016 at 10:11 pm

This is Jessie speak for


Wheres mine?   The Obama train is coming to a halt and I need to scam someone.

JamBam wrote on November 11, 2016 at 12:11 am

Another race hustla trying to do a shakedown.  Jesse, if you want something, work for it.  State contracts aren't handed out based on race or gender.  Now THAT would be sexist and racist.  



annabellissimo wrote on November 11, 2016 at 1:11 am

Jesse Jackson has a history of employing a kind of intimidating or even threatening "muscle" to get what he wants. The University of Illinois has a history of bending to the demands of anyone who claims any kind of racism, however unfounded. One wonders if Jackson has turned his grasping attention to the U of I now that Chicago State is on the ropes. Somebody needs to remind Mr. Jackson that it is the State of Illinois that negotiates and controls ALL contracts and agreements with contractors and vendors. He needs to take his "information gathering" act to Springfield and gather information there. While in Champaign-Urbana, maybe he could do something meaningful about all the shootings, beatings, and crime involving members of the demographic he professes to represent.