About one thousand marchers shut down Western Avenue Sunday afternoon in an effort to bring attention to what they see as a serious lack of opportunity for black contractors and laborers.
The peaceful display was largely jump started by Ed Gardner, 87, a retired Chicago businessman who made millions as the founder of Soft Sheen Hair products. He noticed a lack of black workers in area construction crews and decided it was time to take a stand.
Starting at 95th Street and heading north down Western Avenue the street was closed off as the protesters made their way past the currently under-construction retail development which will include a Meijer and Menards.
The protests first started last week and organizers said the issue was one that affects familes across Chicago.
"They must have a diverse representation of the South Side," said Omar Shareef of the African American Contractors Association . "These are companies that are absolutely qualified."
Russell Brown came to Sunday's protest because he says he knows all to well the difficulties black workers face securing union jobs.
"I have been a tradesman in Local 6 for 15 years and in those years I have only been able to work three years," Brown said. "Most of the time I have been out protesting and trying to get a job."
The national unemployment rate sits at 8.1 percent, while the rate for blacks is 14.1, according to the most recent figures.