Protest at MLKing Heritage Marker
September 27, 2012
Last month, two protesters from NAMC-O picketed the grand opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Heritage Marker project at the edge of the Boise Eliot neighborhood, trying to draw attention to what NAMC-O says were missteps in the bidding process for construction companies. Members of the group criticized the Portland Development Commission’s contract award process which, they say, did not result in significant investment in the local Black community’s businesses despite the fact that the Heritage Marker was designed to honor the Black community (many of NAMC-O’s issues with the Heritage Marker echo those in two recent developments in the industry locally, see ‘ODOT Ruling’ on page 3 of this issue). PDC Business and Social Equity Director John Jackley says the Heritage Marker contracting process was a model of MWESB participation, with 75 percent of work done by Asian, Native American and Black family-owned companies. NAMC-O members say that only one Black-owned company, O’Neill Electric, got any part of the work, and that was $68,000 worth out of nearly $650,000 spent. The curving, rusted-metal signage on the spot reads: “They will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” A reporter for The Skanner News who watched part of the sign’s installation says it appeared the crew that erected it was comprised only of white workers.