Black Applicants Passed Over in 1995 Vie for Chicago Jobs

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More than 15 years after they were passed over, hundreds of black firefighter candidates are getting another chance to join the Chicago Fire Department, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the close to 6,000 black applicants who took the department's entrance exam in 1995 were victims of discrimination.

Applicants were divided into qualified and highly qualified candidates, based on their scores, but the black applicants argued that the city's cutoff score was arbitrarily set.

As part of the settlement of the lawsuit, nearly 1,000 candidates from the 1995 exam were chosen at random and invited to Quinn Fire Academy for physical testing.

The applicants will be timed carrying loads and tested on their upper body strength and ability to lift.

The testing is expected to last several days as different groups are brought in.

Department spokesman Larry Langford told the newspaper that of the applicants, 111 will be chosen to go through six months of EMS, and fire suppression training, and those who pass will be hired.

Members of the class who are not hired are eligible for a share of $30 million in monetary relief.

LaShonn Tomlinson told The Tribune that he always had dreams of becoming a Chicago firefighter.

"For years, I would see the new candidates running down Canal Street, and I'd be wondering when it would be my turn," the 38-year-old said. "But I never got the call."

He said that he was happy when he was called back in and is hopeful for the long-awaited opportunity.

"(It's) an opportunity to make a decent salary in times where everything is going up but your pay."