On Tuesday night, February 21, the Virginia Beach City Council agreed it would produce a full disparity study into the level of spending and awarding of contracts the city does with minority-owned businesses.
The council’s action is a turn-around from a previous decision that it would not order a full study as has been sought by members of the African American community. Members of the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference, along with various community, political, and cultural organizations announced plans last week for a march at the Virginia Beach oceanfront on Saturday, Feb. 25 to highlight what they say is “the city’s racial bias and cronyism”.
According to a press release distributed by the ministers’ group at the Seajack Balck History Program on Feb. 18, The Faith, Freedom, and Justice March is being called to end the city’s culture of discrimination and cronyism.
Minister Dr. James Allen explained, “The Faith, Freedom, and Justice March is a statement to Virginia Beach, the state, and the nation that we the people are indeed what makes America great.
“Virginia Beach is a tremendous city with unlimited potential. But it can’t be the greatest city in the world if it is not the greatest city for all its citizens.”
The march will start at Rudee Loop on Saturday, February 25th at 11:00 a.m. and proceed along Atlantic Avenue, ending at the Cavalier Hotel at 2:00 p.m.
“For too long, the city’s business practices have disproportionately impacted women, people of color, working class families, and young people from participating in an economy that is only available for a select few,” according to the release.
“February 25th will be a celebration of diversity which is open to everyone in Hampton Roads (and Virginia) who feels Virginia’s largest city and the epicenter of Virginia tourism, should take steps to be more transparent, inclusive, and welcoming to all citizens and businesses. We only seek a level playing field for all the people of Virginia Beach.”
The request for a fully funded and independent disparity study had already been endorsed by the city’s Human Rights Commission, Minority Business Council, the Virginian-Pilot Editorial Board, along with other civic, community, and financial organizations, before the council’s most recent decision.
Allen continued, “If Virginia Beach is truly going to be the greatest city in the world, then our elected leaders need to take seriously the concerns of all its citizens, not just the one’s in positions of financial privilege.”
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