By Alberto O. Cappas
As promised, on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 I did speak at the City’s Common Council hearing on the subject of “Contract Compliance Community Review,” regarding jobs in the construction trade as well as business and economic development in the Black and Latino communities.
I remember when I was a student leader at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1968 and involved in the local Black and Puerto Rican community, fighting to elect people who looked like us into elected office — including liberal candidates who support and understood the needs of our communities.
One of the common themes promoted by our Black and Latino students, as well as our community leaders, is the needed to elect more Blacks and Latinos to elected or political positions in order to obtain power so we can do more for our marginalized communities.
We did reach that milestone in the City of Buffalo. We have a Black Mayor, several minorities on the city council, on the Board of Education, and a good number appointed to government positions. But unfortunately our political and economic position is worse off.
It’s a crying shame that we are here today to protest about the lack of jobs for minorities; and the lack of business development and economic growth for minority owned businesses. The construction trade is doing everything in its power to deny us the jobs that are paid for by our tax dollars.
Many of you are Democrats. The people here are in need you to correct the systematic, institutionalized abuses propagated against our communities.
We also want you to know that we need and want your direct support when we complete our business and economic development plan. There are many business and economic development projects taking place in this city of good neighbors. We just want to see the same in our communities.
No — we are not hoping — but we are planning business and economic development. We will insist on economic inclusion for our communities, and when we submit our plans to the Governor, we look forward to your support and direct political action.
We need to work together, if not, we might as well develop our own independent party or enlist in the Republican organization, give them our substantial vote and see how we can work with that organization. We really have nothing to lose. It is about time we begin to review and examine our relationship with the Democratic organization.
Thank you. May the Lord always be guiding us.
Alberto O. Cappas is the Founder and Chairperson of the Puerto Rican Committee for Community Justice (PRCCJ).