Mayor Strickland responds as Rev. Jackson calls for more African-American contracts

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In a city known for its civil rights history, well-known activist Rev. Jesse Jackson is speaking out, saying in a majority African-American city more contracts should be awarded to African-American owned businesses.

“It’s not fair. We want the city’s procurement list to match with our supply capacity, our acts for commitment and goals and papers at least 50 percent,” said Jackson on Tuesday.

Jackson said he wants to see some kind of plan in the next 30 days that shows African-Americans included in development or he and other activists will begin organizing marches.

He said plans are not just up to Mayor Jim Strickland.

“Not just him. We met with congressman, the congressional contracts that come in the city,” he said.

Jackson also talked about getting more state and county contracts.

Wednesday Strickland told WREG he’s glad the spotlight has been shined on the issue and posted this graph of minority contracts on his Facebook page.

“We’ve had real success in our first year. We’ve increased minority- and women-owned spending by over 60 percent from 12 percent of total spending to 20 percent of total spending. A huge increase,” explained Strickland.

Strickland said he met with Jackson for an hour Tuesday. He said he told Jackson about the need for an African-American-owned auto dealer in the city.

“We don’t have one in Memphis. Years ago we did. We buy a lot of police cars, a lot of fire cars.”

He hopes Jackson can help bring one to town.

As for the 30-day notice Jackson referred to and possible marches?

Strickland said that’s news to him.

“He never said anything about a 30-day limit. He never said anything about marching so I’m not going to comment on something I didn’t talk to him about, but I can’t control the actions of others. I can control our actions. We have a plan, it’s working and it’s going to work even better,” he said.

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