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updated: 11/1/2012 5:13 PM

Winners of bias lawsuit among firefighter grads

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Associated Press

When 98 new Chicago firefighters crossed the stage to shake Mayor Rahm Emanuel's hand, 86 of them did so after waiting since 1995 for the chance to join the Chicago Fire Department.

The 86 firefighters greeting Emanuel on Thursday were among nearly 6,000 black applicants bypassed by the city's discriminatory handling of a 1995 firefighters' entrance exam.

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After the test, anyone who scored 64 or below was deemed not qualified, but officials told those who scored above that number that while they passed, they would randomly hire the top 1,800 who scored 89 or better.

Because only 11 percent of the blacks scored 89 or better, the overwhelming number of applicants hired were white, a decision a federal judge ruled in 2005 perpetuated the department's predominantly white status quo.

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