At the Economic Empowerment Forum Monday, July 14, pastors, ministers, other influential political figures and concerned citizens of Chicago’s inner city neighborhoods convened to address state/city budget contract allocations, violence and the gubernatorial election. The Chicago Baptist Institute International’s (CBII) Board Chairman, Dr. Willie Wilson, moderated an eventful midday panel. The absence of Governor Pat Quinn, who notified Dr. Wilson during the beginning of the forum that he would be unable to attend, was to say the least not a good look for a politician who wants the African American citizen’s favor for re-election. Forums of this magnitude bring awareness to the elected officials through the eyes of those who are on the ground in our neighborhoods with a first hand view.
Dr. Willie Wilson wittingly and graciously conducted the Economic Empowerment Forum with a no-nonsense approach. Out of the block, Illinois State Representative Ken Dunkin laid the foundation of why it is a necessity to sound off on the disparities in the allotment of contracts within the state and city. Figures don’t lie and Rep. Ken Dunkin had them to make his point very clear. How can the state of Illinois consist of approximately 15% African Americans and the percentage of contracts allocated to them is significantly lower than their population? Well, that can be explained somewhat. Even though African Americans are a minority, we are a minority within a pool of minorities that the state recognizes and allocate contracts to. With this knowledge, African Americans have been dealt the short end of the stick. It is imperative that African Americans acquire the necessary documentation and licenses that apply such as, the Persons with Disabilities Business Enterprise (PBE), the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and the Female Business Enterprise (FBE) in order to bid for contracts.
Despite a moment of disgruntlement during the Q&A session, gubernatorial runner, Bruce Rauner, answered questions regarding allocation of contracts and violence, however his answers were general and at best the politician mumbo-jumbo. The State of Illinois has seen it’s share of big talkers and high deficits. From former Governor George Ryan to Governor Rod Blagojevich, scandals have kept the Governor’s office in Springfield under constant scrutiny. What will make Bruce Rauner’s tenure different, if elected Governor? It remains to be seen. To continue to hold the state and city politicians feet to the fire, Dr. Willie Wilson along with the Chicago Baptist Institute International (CBII) will conduct more forums. As citizens of Illinois, we should make it a point to educate ourselves about the intricacies of politics beyond who’s the president of America and to pass down this knowledge to the next generation with it’s importance. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6 KJV)