TGR: Aubrey L. Stone, Ron Busby, & The Mission of the US Black Chambers

By Doni Glover, Publisher

(WASHINGTON – February 17, 2019) – As I learned of the passing of Mr. Aubrey L. Stone, Chairman Emeritus of the US Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), a call to Ron Busby was a must. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to speak with him. Here I was calling to give him some encouragement, and ended up being inspired myself. In case one doesn’t know, Busby is the CEO of the African American chamber organization that is set to celebrate its first decade next month in Washington, D.C. at the Marriott Courtyard on March 8th.

While advocacy for black business is near and dear to my heart, it is people like Busby whom I seek to emulate. He is an awesome advocate for our businesses who uses his platform to bridge the gaps in our community and I am so proud of him.

Years ago, I heard former Congressman and NAACP CEO Kweisi  Mfume liken our community to “beggars sitting on bags of gold.” Oh, how I’ve quote him many times. You see, the African American community has over $1.3 trillion in annual disposable income. Hence, with a bit of direction, I do not believe that there is one issue we cannot solve – if we work together.

And that’s what Busby does on a daily basis, in my opinion. He and the US Black Chambers is all about uniting our buying power and advocating effective change in the here and now.

To say the least, let me say that Busby is the goods! I have literally bumped into this guy at the White House. I have even bumped into him way across country in Portland, Oregon; it was at the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Conference a few years back. NNPA is the organization representing more than 200 African American-owned newspapers throughout America. So, there should be little need to explain Busby’s presence.

Put simply, he gets it! He understands the need to be engaged, to be in the community, and also to be at the places where the leaders convene.

One thing he shared with me that I did not know was about a recent comment made by the 108th Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, at an annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration in Washington, D.C. As the story goes, Bloomberg told the audience that he recently learned about what happened May 31-June 1, 1921 in Tulsa. That’s when, of course, Black Wall Street in Tulsa was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by a mob of angry white people after a white woman falsely accused a black man of rape. 24 hours later, over 10,000 African Americans were displaced, more than 300 were killed, and hundreds of black-owned businesses were destroyed. For the record, Tulsa represented the most magnanimous business district for people of the darker hue in the history of America.

I am encouraged when I hear stories like this. Followers of this column know just how important it is to me for all people to know about Tulsa; even more, they know how important supporting black businesses is to me.

Busby, to say the least, really knows how to carry the banner for black businesses across the country. Under his leadership, the USBC has thoroughly become “an association of over 100 self sustaining, viable Black Chambers and small business associations nationwide whose collaboration with strategic partners increases [its] capacity to serve.”

Whether it’s about the black bank advocacy of Rapper “Killer Mike” or the efforts of Rep. Maxine Waters, Busby is right there on the frontlines relentlessly working on behalf of people of color.

Another story I love to hear Busby discuss is the process he underwent of using all African Americans in the purchase of his new home. From the banker to the mortgage company to the title company to the home inspector to the moving company to the pest control to the landscaping to the IT company – ‘all black everything’!   

Pardon me, but I like that! No! I love it! This is what I’m talking about: us helping us. Today, that same collection of businesses is working together with other homebuyers and that, my friends, is a beautiful thing!

For me, this helps to effectively silence critics of black business – in the same way that Tulsa’s legacy does. Heaven knows why some people only have negative things to say about a black business, especially given how others, many of whom we still support, have mistreated us as black consumers.

Yet, Busby’s story of having a complete team of African American-owned businesses at every step of the home buying process inspires me to no end. It is the kind of story I’d love to hear more often, quite frankly.

All this to say that I hope heaven’s doors open widely for Busby’s father-like mentor, Aubrey L. Stone. Having met him on a few occasions, I can honestly say that he was a very down to earth man who had no problem helping his community. Furthermore, I hope that more of us find a way to support Busby and the USBC. They are doing phenomenal work and in this, their 10th year of operation, I pray higher heights and deeper depths are on the horizon for this all-important institution dedicated to working on behalf of African American-owned businesses across America and beyond!

Proud of you, Ron!