Durham Marches for Fair Hiring Ordinance

Hundreds gathered in Durham on Saturday, June 4 around a common goal: to end employment discrimination and promote fair hiring. In partnership with the Durham Second Chance Alliance, the Love & Respect Recovery House hosted its 9th Annual Take Back the Streets Community Fair & March. People in attendance took to the streets of North East Central Durham, marching and shouting together, “Ban the Box now!”
The Durham Second Chance Alliance’s Ban the Box campaign is part of a national movement that focuses on passing local ordinances for fair hiring practices, such as removing the question, or “box,” on job applications that asks if applicants have ever been convicted of a crime or incarcerated. This question drastically hurts the chances of people with criminal records getting a job and being able to be independent and provide for their families. In North Carolina, more than 1.6 million people have a criminal record, and 45% of those under the Department of Correction supervision are African American. Over twenty cities have already “Banned the Box,” including San Francisco, Detroit, Boston, Memphis and most recently, Philadelphia.
Among the crowd of supporters were elected officials and local activists who publicly lent their support to the passage of a fair hiring ordinance in Durham. Paul Luebke, NC House Representative for Durham County, spoke of the importance of passing a fair hiring ordinance as opposed to a policy, which is neither permanent nor a law, and could change at the whim of the city or county administration. Durham NAACP Branch President Fred Foster encouraged the audience to set their goals higher and push for Ban the Box to become a statewide issue. He highlighted how this is an issue that disproportionately affects African Americans across the state. Durham City Council-member Mike Woodard commended the event and said there should be more like it to raise awareness for the issue.
Putting a human face on the issue, Clarence Stevenson from the Love & Respect Recovery House, spoke about his past history of incarceration and job-seeking, and the importance of an ordinance in securing opportunities to obtain stable employment.
Durham city and county need to pass a comprehensive ban the box ordinance to ensure that Stevenson and others like him have a fair second chance.