MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Civil Rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson came to Memphis to fight for African American businesses.
Jackson joined a movement to urge the City of Memphis to award more city contracts to African American-owned businesses.
"The disparity gap in Memphis is embarrassing," Jackson said.
Jackson spent Tuesday morning with city council members and Mayor Jim Strickland.
Strickland said the number of contracts given to minority-owned businesses has increased from 12 percent to 20 percent since he took office.
However, critics said those number list white women as minority business owners.
Jackson said he wants to see 50 percent of the city's contracts go to minorities. He said his 50 percent number should not including businesses owned by white women.
"White women are not minorities," Jackson said. "They didn't come on the slave ship; they have a role to play, but blacks who have been locked into slavery and Jim Crow must have some plan to get out of the pit."
Strickland vowed to continue his push to increase contracts to minority-owned businesses.
"I'm going to walk arm and arm with them and get these numbers up," Strickland said. "We promise to do even more. This is not a publicity stunt; we mean business."
Jackson said he is giving City of Memphis 30 days to come up with a specific plan to increase minority business contracts, or else he'll start to organize marches and protests against the city's policies.
However, Jackson not only spent time at City Hall - he also spoke at local churches.
"African Americans have been for too long locked out of the process," Jackson told people at the Greenwood CME Church. "There is no rational explanation on why we can't do our share of business in a majority African American city."