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The Glover Report: Remembering Baltimore’s Black Business Titans

By Doni Glover, Publisher
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(BALTIMORE – February 28, 2021) – On this last day of Black History Month 2021, there are so many ancestors to acknowledge. There is no way to honor them all in one month. That’s why it should be an everyday occurrence. We should be sharing Black History with our family and friends all year long. This is absolutely necessary to counter the tons of negative media that stereotypically attempts to define our otherwise beautiful legacy.

With that said, I must take a moment and celebrate the likes of Robert Lee “Bob” Clay, Attorney Arnold Jolivet, Ackneil Muldrow, and Raymond V. Haysbert, Sr. While they are gone now, I can never forget the impact they had on so many of our lives, particularly in the realm of Black business.

“They were my mentors,” said Charles Owens. Owens has an extensive history doing business in the region as well.

“They were giants in minority and general business development,” he continued. “I asked Ray Haysbert years ago, how do I become successful in business? He said, find someone and imitate him.”

Owens, the retired President of the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce, is a legend in this town. When asked what he thought of the up-and-coming leaders, he replied, “They’re on the horizon, but we have to develop them.”

He added, “We gotta support their businesses and their business practices. And we have to encourage their community commitment. We just have to keep pointing out their community commitment, keep supporting them, and encourage mentorship.”

Owens also acknowledged another Baltimore legend who recently passed, Frank Coakley. Coakley was “instrumental”, said Owens, in pushing Black business development in his role with the State of Maryland and even going back to Coakley’s days as a branch manager at Maryland National Bank in Mondawmin Mall.

So, Ase’ to these ancestors and elders like Charlie Owens. They paved the way for us today. Today’s leaders stand on the shoulders of bold pioneers like Dorothy Brunson of WEBB Radio, the first Black woman radio station owner in the country and Reginald F. Lewis who orchestrated the corporate takeover of TLC Beatrice, headquartered in France.

All the way back to the early days of Baltimore, we even serve as home to one of if not the oldest Black family business in America: Locks Funeral Home. It was established in 1835 and former Mayor Kurt Schmoke’s wife, Patricia, is a member of that bold family. Isaac Myers and Tom Smith come to mind also.

These greats laid down the blueprint for us to follow. Banking, financing, the stock market – hell, Park’s Sausages was the first Black company to go public! Baltimore, I tell you, is loaded with phenomenal Black history. Do keep it alive. Do share it repeatedly with your children so they will know the stories. They must know the wealth and vastness of our collective legacy both in Baltimore and all the way across the African Diaspora.

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