(Photo: Sylvia White of Harlem Hospital recognized at a Black Wall Street HARLEM event presented by Bmorenews and its Partners)
By Doni Glover, Publisher
(BALTIMORE – February 26, 2019) – Since Bmorenews.com’s first business awards ceremony held in Washington, D.C. in 2011, we have recognized more than 1,200 individuals with the coveted Joe Manns Black Wall Street Award in 5 US cities, including New York, Baltimore, Washington, Atlanta and New Orleans. This includes counties throughout Maryland.
Our aim is to encourage entrepreneurship. Do you know why?
Well, I will tell you. From Day 1 on August 9, 2002, Bmorenews.com set out to cover the African American experience. My experiences thus far as a journalist had brought up many recurring themes and topics. I figured Bmorenews.com should pick 5 of them and hammer them home.
So, I narrowed the list down to public education, business, ex-offender services, affordable housing and universal access to health care.Regular subscribers to www.bmorenews.com also know that politics is a given because it touches every single aspect of our lives. Since first becoming a journalist back in 1994, I have consistently pushed voting. I have encouraged candidates to run. And I have helped some, too.
However, I am not as confident in the political process as I am in business. Having grown up in a family business, I have seen too many people of color run businesses my entire life. And for the past 16 years, I have done it for myself. Hence, I know the hustle. I also understand the grind that is necessary for a business to succeed.
Furthermore, one by one, I have witnessed dozens if not hundreds of black businesses succeed – across the country .
To me, helping black businesses thrive is a quintessential part of Bmorenews.com’s core. You see, the more black businesses succeed, the more black people get hired. It’s that simple. As noted by Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, black-owned businesses hire African Americans at the highest rate of all.
Let’s face it, many of us have felonies. Many of us have not been successful in the traditional sense of finding and keeping a job for a plethora of reasons. This is where black employers fill a void. After all, who is best able to understand the plight of a black man or woman than another black man or woman?
Our goal is to encourage a healthy and viable black business climate across America where increasingly we, as a community, are supporting black businesses – just like in Tulsa, Durham, Richmond, Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit and so many other places – back in the day.
In 2019, we are looking to expand the footprint of what has come to be known as the ORIGINAL Black Wall Street SERIES *NYC *MD *DC *ATL *NOLA. We’d like to take it across the nation and, ultimately, across the world.
When I was in graduate school at Morgan State University, my field was International Affairs. It was there that I researched the possibilities of African-African American economic cooperation. Since then, I have seen countless examples of people of the darker hue working together in business. I have had my hand in a bit of it as well. Bottom line: If the African American community is going to heal and strengthen itself, even in the world as we know it today, then we have to tighten up our business game.
With $1.3 trillion in annual disposable income, we have been labeled as “super users”. This means that black people shop at a very high rate, compared to other American ethnicities. The problem is, though, while we are consuming a lot, we are not producing a lot.
This is called a trade imbalance.
African Americans can make any brand soar. And we have. The challenge, however, is that all of this shopping does not translate into effective empowerment for our communities – as evidenced by the dilapidated housing stock, the fractured families, the mass incarceration, the poor health, the violence and the drugs, just to name a few of the issues we regularly face.
So, I am all for voting and engaging our elected officials. I still encourage young people to get involved in the political process. At the same time, if we are not parlaying our politics into economics, then all of it is for naught.
DC Mayor Marion Barry, say what you will, knew how to parlay political power into economic justice. Congressman Parren J. Mitchell out of Baltimore knew the game. And Atlanta’s Maynard Jackson also knew the concept and knew it well. As a matter of fact, Maynard told the white contractors building Hartsfield International Airport that they needed to hire black businesses. When they refused, Maynard said, “Cut the water off.”
This is the type of resolve we need in black elected officials. Sadly, it is not that common today. No matter how we push our black elected officials to help foster black business and to stand up for the issues black folks face on a daily, not enough has happened so as to put the black community nationwide in a better economic condition. So, we are left to do it for ourselves.
Truth be told, some have always advocated for our self-empowerment. Marcus Garvey did. He built a ship line. The Nation of Islam does, too; they understand the need to do for self and have countless enterprises. But, what about the masses of black people? Do most of us get it?
I can honestly say that this hits at the joy I get from pushing the Black Wall Street Movement. With the help of the internet, we have been banging the message repeatedly: Support Black Business. It is a must. Like my dad used to say: “A fool and his money soon depart.”
With over a trillion bucks in annual disposable income, we can fix anything that ails us. I think the issue becomes our willingness to change. Unless we change our hearts, nothing will improve.
A lot of times, we are so busy trying to keep up with the Joneses that we fail to prepare for tomorrow. We have a dozen pair of sneakers, but no life insurance. We have a Benz, but we are renting. I’m not knocking nice things. Who doesn’t like to be swank? Yet, we cannot wonder why our communities look the way they do if we are a part of the problem.
And that’s what the Black Wall Street Movement means to me. It means taking control of our own destiny by working together and helping each other. And look, we don’t have to be in love with each other to support each other. If that black man is employing 10 people, his effort speaks for itself. I don’t have to like him personally, but I do need to support him. If a sister has made way for 10 other people to eat, then I need to do whatever I can – big or small – to support her.
It’s not about me or you. It’s about us. And the last time I checked, no one is coming to save us. If it is to be, then we must be the reason.
To support Bmorenews.com’s Black Wall Street Movement, call 443.858.2684 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.