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The Terrorism of Racism - Part II: Black Church Group Takes on Corporate Discrimination

WWNS team leader Derrick Culbreath, shown here after a car bomb exploded in Iraq, was one of WWNS prized telecommunications employees who lost his job due to racism when the business went under, says Reginald Bailey.

WASHINGTON (TEWire) – A Black government sub-contractor who lost his telecommunications company due to race discrimination by a multi-billion dollar general contractor, is getting some unexpected help from the grassroots Black church community.

Reginald Bailey, president of World Wide Network Services (WWNS), says he is somewhat surprised but appreciative of a letter that was sent to Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., the company that has acquired Dyncorp International, which was found guilty of three counts of race discrimination against him three years ago.

The comprehensive; yet fiery letter, sent from the Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the 34,000-church National Black Church Initiative, strongly encourages Cerberus to “discuss an amicable solution”.

The January 4 letter, obtained by the Trice Edney News Wire, states, in part: “NBCI, in collaboration with the Black religious leadership nationwide, has independently reviewed the facts of this case and we have decided to join WWNS’ cause …We are called to support WWNS because this case is reminiscent of the inception of the black Church – we were born of protest. The Church remains a staunch supporter of equality as we believe equality defines the American spirit and embodies the very best of what our nation represents,” he writes. “While WWNS is the unfortunate and unwitting recipient of this professionally and personally debilitating act of racial discrimination, they are fortunate to have strong allies in its continued fight. NBCI, in collaboration with the black religious leadership nationwide, will use the full force of the African American church and the power of our combined 100,000 churches to do whatever is necessary to right this wrong.”

Released in a statement on the birthday holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the group’s announcement was reminiscent of the often unspoken partnership between the four-pillars of the Black community: The Black Church; the Black business community; the Black Press and Black educational institutions.

“I am pleased to see that there is advocacy out there that is willing to get out there and do the right thing,” says Bailey. “We are just blessed to have so many people who want to take on this fight.”

Evans’ letter joins protests by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial in the case. Rev. Jackson has written several letters in the case, including an appeal to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Through a spokeswoman, she has so far declined comment on the case. During the trial, the NUL filed a supporting brief on behalf of WWNS.

In a nutshell, the Reginald Bailey story, broken on the inaugural website of the Trice Edney News Wire, is as follows: Bailey, 40, a 1995 business administration graduate of North Carolina A&T and his business partner, Walter Gray, were awarded multiple contracts that totaled more than $140 million over a course of four years to manage telecommunications in Iraq and Afghanistan. WWNS served as a subcontractor and teaming partner under DynCorp International, LLC, a White-owned nearly $3 billion U. S. Defense contractor.

Five years later, the husband and father of two found himself fighting foreclosure after a long court battle against race discrimination. In a May 14, 2008 ruling from an all-White jury of eight people in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia DynCorp was found guilty of race discrimination on three counts. The atrocities documented in court included the companies’ refusal to pay WWNS the wages owed; refusal to provide protection for them in war zones; verbal harassment; including racial epithets; a letter written by DynCorp leaders in stereotypical “Mushmouth” verbiage intended to insult the Black owners; and a T-shirt given to a leader at a DynCorp party that actually celebrated having put WWNS out of business.

Ultimately, DynCorp paid its back bills to WWNS. But $10 million in punitive damages was never paid due to an over-ruling by a higher court, which upheld the discrimination verdict, but set aside the punitive damages due to a technicality in jury instructions.

Bailey says ultimately what he wants is to "see justice.”

On the flip side, DynCorp, which was acquired by Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., a multi-billion dollar corporation that merged with DynCorp in June 2010, continues to grow from lucrative federal government contracts. It also thrives from investments from public pension funds, which include billions in contribution dollars from at least 30 percent African-Americans.

DynCorp, through a spokeswoman, Ashley Burke, sent an emailed statement to Trice Edney Wire denying any further responsibility in the case:

“DynCorp International takes allegations of racial discrimination very seriously,” she wrote. “And our strict code of ethics and business conduct specifically addresses our zero tolerance for any kind of discrimination. Although we strongly disagreed with the verdict in this case, the judgment was paid in full.”

But, the civil rights community is not buying that.

“These appalling actions were not followed by an apology or any other form of acceptable remuneration. On the contrary, this racial discrimination was celebrated,” Evans letter states. “We are prepared to launch a thunderous public protest with no limits against the responsible parties utilizing the moral authority of the Church and the power of the national faith-based community. These protests will extend themselves to the many consumer products owned by Cerberus and currently purchased by the millions of parishioners within the NBCI coalition and the black faith-based communities nationwide.

The letter was sent to Steve Feinberg, chief executive officer, Cerberus Capital; Dan Quayle, chairman, Cerberus Global Investments, LLC; John W. Snow, chairman, Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. and Steven F. Gaffney chairman and CEO of DynCorp International.

“Chief Executive Officer Finberg, Chairmen Snow and Quayle, and Cerberus leadership have the power to make this right,” Evans states in his letter. “We are optimistic that you are interested in assessing your responsibility and responding accordingly. If our optimism is misplaced, we are certain that you will be influenced to take decisive action when faced with public opposition and continued legal action.

“We are optimistic that by rallying our congregations - evoking the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement – the public support we garner will tip the scales to achieve the justice that WWNS so richly deserves. It is our sincerest hope that WWNS co-founders Bailey and Gray and WWNS employees and shareholders can be righted to their former glory and that this injustice will no longer blemish the American values of equality and justice.”

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