June 19, 2024

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Urban League Convention held in Boston missed opportunities for Black Boston

Urban League Convention held in Boston missed opportunities for Black Boston

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The Urban League Convention was looked at by many as one of the few opportunities for black businesses to be involved in an African American convention, something extremely rare for the city of Boston.  Black conventions generally choose cities like New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago or Washington DC.  With the opportunity of showcasing Boston as a more hospitable city to blacks, should have been opportunity for the black businesses here to be involved in the convention.   But ask the many black businesses in town how much business they are getting from the Convention…. it’s more like there are getting the business.  In effect, being shut out of major opportunities which could have provided not only an economic boost to local businesses but also much needed employment for our community.

Minority businesses complain of runarounds, bills not being paid, and rejected proposals.  Henry F. Owens Movers (the oldest minority business in New England) has tried unsuccessfully for 10 yrs to win a contract from the convention center.  Ask Terryl Calloway of Calloway Grafix if he got any graphic design or printing business.   Ask Darryl Settles, owner of Darryl’s Corner Bar & Grille (a prominent black owned restaurant and bar which serves African American Cuisine) how much business he got.  The list goes on and on…  The Blackstonian has learned that many prominent Black Businesses were unable to secure a contract during the convention.  Reportedly among them; Joyce Ferriabough, Kelly Chunn, Colette Phillips, Doreen Wade, Will Dorcena, Gayle Jackson, Terryl Calloway, and more…

How does the local Urban League explain the black out of black businesses?  Darnell Williams says it’s about business.  Business as usual I’d say and this sentiment is shared by many of the businesses who have reached out and been overshadowed by white downtown businesses being the beneficiaries of the majority of the black dollars spent.  Williams seems to see nothing wrong with that and failed to see the value of spreading the wealth. Ironic for an organization that preaches just that philosophy, particularly with the National Convention’s theme of “Jobs Build America” and the local Urban League’s stated mission of “Reshaping the image of Boston“.  During the entire week you could see plenty of black waitstaff, which is what Bennie Wiley suggested that all local organizations should be working toward to ensure that our community gets “serving positions”. (See Video Here)

Adding insult to injury, Williams purportedly turned down the opportunity to pull together some of the major accomplished PR and fund raiser types in the black community to hire Dusty Rhodes, a white PR/Fundraiser who has no blacks working on her Conventures staff and didn’t include any when she signed the contract, nor did Williams insist that she do so. (See Rhodes’ Conventures Staff Here) Considering the Urban League’s legacy of providing jobs and training for African Americans, this is an ironic travesty.

The Blackstonian was informed that Darnell Williams tried to solve the potential image problem by having Rhodes do a joint venture with Will Dorcena, a Haitian American marketing professional.  Allegedly, Dorcena has filed suit against the local Urban League for breach of contract and is now in binding arbitration, which allows them to get past the Convention and prevents Dorcena from telling his story publicly.  Dorcena has thus far been unavailable for comment.  An interesting side note, when Rhodes coordinated the Tall Ships and asked for public money, then- Senator Dianne Wilkerson insisted she hire minorities.

The local Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts had an opportunity to create a dream team with African Americans involved at every level but just ask any business how inclusive the local Urban League has been in lifting up Boston’s black businesses.  Most of the money seems to have been spent with a majority of non-minority contractors and from all reports and appearances it seems as if there was a concerted effort to funnel black dollars into white pockets.  From the very beginning, Convention center Director Jim Rooney and Darnell Williams seemed resolute in their efforts to have the potential 10,000 Black visitors to boost the economies of the Seaport District/South Boston and Copley Place/Back Bay.  (See Video Here)
Mission accomplished.

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The Blackstonian Community News Service - Black Boston 411 24/7. @Blackstonian on twitter. Like our page on Facebook.

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