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  • Sacred Conversations 2016

Letter: Civil Rights Progress Must Continue In Springfield

Wednesday will be the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, a good time to consider our city’s record on civil rights.

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston called diversity “critical to the way the city provides services and conducts its employment practices.” Last November, Ald. Doris Turner introduced and the council passed an ordinance requiring the city to prepare an Affirmative Action Plan, now available for public review.

The Faith Coalition for the Common Good supported the initiatives and applauds the excellent work.

The FCCG City Services Task Force concludes that the plan demonstrates the impact of past discrimination on the current workforce. This is shown by the difference between the actual workforce and a proportionate diversity given the availability of qualified workers.

That means, for example, that if the Department of Employment Security shows that 2 percent of black males are qualified as managers and administrators, then the city hiring would be considered non-discriminatory if 2 percent or more of the administrators are black males, a conservative statistical standard.

The plan shows that the proportion of non-white employees is 78 fewer, or below the standard. The number of female employees is 208 fewer.

What explains this discrepancy? We conclude that systemic discrimination accounts for the difference.

Fifty years since the March on Washington, the work must go on. FCCG looks forward to continuing to work with city officials to ensure equal job opportunities and a better community for all who call Springfield home.

Jack Thomas Hutchinson and Jeff Bland
The writers are co-chairs of the FCCG City Services Task Force.

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