Delivered to the National Black Wall Street Summit 2018 by the Honorable Kweisi Mfume, November 8, 2018 at the Greater Baltimore Urban League
2018 BLACK WALL STREET SUMMIT
Remarks of the Honorable Kweisi Mfume
Baltimore Urban League
November 8, 2018
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, Good afternoon!
My thanks to you here for your presence and my thanks to Doni Glover for his persistence in challenging us to focus on the socio-economic DEVELOPMENT or lack thereof in the communities of black people that continue to cry out for opportunity, fairness and justice.
It is particularly noteworthy THAT we meet against the backdrop of the Tulsa, Oklahoma tragedy that happened not in some foreign country, but right here on the soil of the United States.
It is considered, without a doubt, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the history of the United States. The attack, carried out on the ground and by air, destroyed more than 35 BLOCKS OF what was at the time the wealthiest black community in the U.S. for a race of people who had suffered endured and survived two centuries of slavery, oppression, DEPRIVATION, DEGRADATION, denial and DIS-PRIVILEGE
This is a beautiful audience.
IT reflects our continuing support and our commitment to the purposes, objectives, mission AND MANDATE of ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY AND ENTREPRENEURIAL excellence.
And it is indeed A welcoming to see the tremendous representation of BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS… AS WELL AS THOSE from the GOVERNMENT and CORPORATE sectors.
But this AFTERNOON I am inclined to talk to, and encouraged to speak to the family.
And the word family includes not only those who are bound and tied by a blood relationship… it is also those who are bound and tied by a common need or condition.
And it is true that it IS DIFFICULT sometimes for us to determine just what condition our condition is in.
For we have a mutual CONDITION and OFTEN a common AFFLICTION.
So we ARE CALLED together AT MOMENTS SUCH AS THIS to reason and to think.
Too often philosophically AND ideologically,
we GET stifled or stymied or stultified —
by those in our numbers who pontificate but do not PRODUCE…
By those who confuse but will not CLARIFY… those who go but will not give…. AND BY those who seek but will not serve.
THAT IS WHY I HAVE HAD AND CONTINUE TO HAVE SO MUCH RESPECT AND APPRECIATION FOR THE WORK OF DONI GLOVER
WHO HAS CONSISTENTLY REMINDED US OF OUR JOINT RESPONSIBILITY TO FIND ANSWERS TO THE ISSUES THAT HAUNT AND BESET OUR COMMUNITIES.
HE REMAINS UNAPOLOGETICALLY BLACK AND UNCEASINGLY COMMITTED TO THE BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC development OF AFRICAN AMERICANS, EVERY DAY… AND IN EVERY WAY.
THE AFRICAN AMERICAN ECONOMY IS
LIKE AN UNEXPLORED TREASURE CHEST IN A WRECKED SHIP,
THAT DESERVES NOW TO BE FULLY OPENED, INSPECTED AND LIBERATED.
WHAT DOES THIS NATION IN A NATION REPRESENT?
IT REPRESENTS 40 TO 45 MILLION BLACK PEOPLE, THE LARGEST BODY OF AFRICAN ANCESTORED PEOPLE IN THE WORLD OTHER THAN NIGERIA AND BRAZIL…
IT REPRESENTS UNPARALLELED POLITICAL POWER — ENOUGH VOTING STRENGTH TO MAKE OR BREAK PRESIDENTS.
*40 MILLION DOLLARS A MONTH IN UNION DUES.
*HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF REAL DOLLARS CONTRIBUTED TO PENSION FUNDS.
*BILLIONS OF DOLLARS PAID IN LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL TAXES.
*A 165 BILLION DOLLAR A YEAR INCOME — PLUS SPENDING POWER THAT GOES IN MULTIPLES.
*AN ENGLISH SPEAKING CONSUMER MARKET THAT’S IMMEDIATELY ACCESSIBLE.
*THE MOST EDUCATED MINDS AND THE BEST TRAINED LABOR FORCE OF ANY INDUSTRIALIZED NATION IN THE WORLD.
A LINK AND A BRIDGE TO THE MARKETS OF OTHER NON-WHITE DEVELOPING ECONOMIES. (LONG GONE ARE THE DAYS WHEN THIS NATION CAN MAKE A PROFIT WITHOUT US) – WE’RE NECESSARY, BUT WE HAVE TO ACT LIKE IT!
THIS WELL-TRAINED LABOR MARKET IS UNDER-UTILIZED AND THE HUGE CONSUMER INVESTMENT BY US INTO THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS NOT BEING REINVESTED BY CORPORATE AMERICA TO DEVELOP THE ECONOMIC INSTITUTIONS OF OUR COMMUNITY.
AND JUST AS YOU CANNOT CUT A DIAMOND WITH STEEL, METAL OR WITH GLASS — YOU CAN ONLY CUT A DIAMOND WITH A DIAMOND,
WE MUST REALLY THINK STRONGLY AND STRATEGICALLY then ABOUT STOPPING THOSE BOYCOTTS WITH BOYCOTTS OF OUR OWN.
STOP THE BOYCOTT WITH A BOYCOTT!
A FAIR AND EQUITABLE RETURN ON THE BLACK DOLLAR IS OUR DEMAND. WE KNOW THAT THE BEST SOCIAL PROGRAM IS A JOB – WE GOT THAT…
BUT WE ALSO KNOW THAT JOBS ARE NOT ENOUGH!
FULL EMPLOYMENT WAS NEVER THE LEGITIMATE GOAL OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT.
THEY WERE FIGHTING FOR SOMETHING MORE.
FOR THEM, FULL EMPLOYMENT WAS NOT OUR GOAL….FULL DEVELOPMENT WAS OUR GOAL….
IN SLAVERY WE HAD FULL EMPLOYMENT — EVERYBODY HAD A JOB!
OUR PEOPLE KNEW THAT IN FULL DEVELOPMENT, EMPLOYMENT IS INHERENT.
BUT THEY ALSO KNEW THAT IN FULL-EMPLOYMENT, DEVELOPMENT IS NOT INHERENT.
SO OUR FIGHT NOW, AS IT WAS THEN, MUST BE FOR THE FULL-ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF OUR COMMUNITIES.
BLACK AMERICA SUFFERS FROM A BUDGET DEFICIT THAT IS A DIRECT RESULT OF A TRADE IMBALANCE.
OUR BUSINESS OWNERS KNOW THAT WE CANNOT BALANCE OUR TRADE AND REDUCE THE BUDGET DEFICITS IN OUR COMMUNITY BY SIMPLY DEALING WITH PUBLIC AID.
WE MUST ALSO INSIST ON EXPANDING PRIVATE TRADE.
HISTORICALLY, THE BLACK COMMUNITY HAS HAD A FREE TRADE POLICY. WE HAVE NOT PUT UP TRADE BARRIERS OR IMPORT RESTRICTIONS IN OUR COMMUNITY.
BUT CORPORATE AMERICA HAS TOO OFTEN TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF OUR FREE TRADE POLICY BY ADOPTING A RESTRAINT OF TRADE POLICY AGAINST BLACK BUSINESSES.
YOU HAVE TRADED WITH THEM AND IN DOING SO HAVE HELPED TO DEVELOP THEIR BUSINESSES — BUT THEY HAVE NOT TRADED EQUALLY WITH US TO HELP DEVELOP OUR BUSINESSES.
AND SO THIS SUMMIT CHALLENGES US TO LOOK FOR ACTIONS THAT WILL STOP THE RESTRAINT OF TRADE BEING PRACTICED BY THE PRIVATE SECTOR AGAINST THE BLACK BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND THE PROFESSIONALS WITHIN THAT COMMUNITY.
WE WANT AN END TO THE ECONOMIC GRANDFATHER CLAUSES AND THE PERPETUAL CONTRACTS THAT DENY US THE ABILITY TO COMPETE FAIRLY.
STOP THE BOYCOTT.
DON’T BLOCK US FROM ACCESS TO CAPITAL AND ACCESS TO CREDIT WHEN WE FULLY QUALIFY FOR IT…
DON’T WORK TO STIFLE THE GROWTH OF HOME-BASED AND INTERNET BUSINESSES BY MAKING CAPITALIZATION MORE PUNITIVE AS A BENCHMARK.
ENFORCE THE PROMPT PAYMENT ACT ON GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS SO THAT OUR CASH FLOW PROBLEMS ARE NOT FURTHER EXACERBATED…
STOP THE OVERLY RESTRICTIVE BONDING REQUIREMENTS PLACED ON US SIMPLY BECAUSE OF OUR BUSINESS ZIP CODE…
CORPORATE AMERICA MUST STOP BOYCOTTING BLACK BUSINESSES, BLACK LAWYERS, BLACK C.P.A.s, BLACK BANKS, BLACK INVESTORS, BLACK MEDIA, and BLACK INSTITUTIONS.
and so as was the case in 1920 when society would ask the PROVERBIAL question, “what does the negro want?”
we answer UNAPOLOGETICALLY and with pride…
-WHAT WE WANT MOST IS COEXISTENCE in America THAT AFFORDS FAIRNESS, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND MUTUAL RESPECt-
FOR WE ARE NOT THAT UNLIKE THE PEOPLE OF TULSA, OKLAHOMA,
WHOSE aspirations, collective history AND LIFE, UNFOLDED IN WHAT WAS THEN AMERICA’S WEALTHIEST BLACK COMMUNITY
…AND, WHO AT THE END OF THE DAY SIMPLY WANTED TO GROW A BUSINESS CLIMATE AND CREATE A BETTER LIFE FOR THEIR FAMILIES.
TODAY, if nothing else, let this summit continually remind us of them and their struggle against great odds… in the face of great sacrifice… to economically develop and empower themselves …
…and never let go of our independence, our thirst for self-sufficiency and our pride.