(HARLEM – November 6, 2022) – Congratulations to our honorees from Friday night in Harlem. Really and truly, I love going to New York City. I get re-charged. It’s a source of inspiration and motivation that I may not be able to put into words.
When I return to Baltimore, that electric energy is still there! Fresh ideas are all over my brain.
What made Friday really special was the presence of Mr. Walter Edwards. He is a dynamic business leader and developer who has strategized with the best of them – especially as it relates to the further empowerment of Black-owned businesses. He is the national “poster child” for Black business advocacy and is a co-founder of the Black Business Empowerment Commission (BBEC) who invited yours truly to the table.
And we’ve been pushing ever since. Regina Smith, the former Executive Director of the Harlem Business Alliance was also a co-founder, as was I. Tasemere Gathers, CEO of the DM Firm, was there, too, as was Zevilla Jackson. Together, we continue to push the agenda of Black business empowerment in various circles across the country.
Hence, our Black Wall Street efforts fall right in sync with the BBEC mission. Our efforts with BMORENews.com and BlackUSA.News are also in accord. And we cannot forget to note Tasemere’s “Brunch Pitch” Competition which has been held in Brooklyn, Harlem, and now Baltimore.
I have to say, though, years before I met Mr. Edwards, my dear, dear friend Odessa Hopkins introduced me to another New York City giant – Mr. Victor Pate. Mr. Pate is my go-to for all things New York. At the drop of a dime, he is a walking encyclopedia.
Actually, Mr. Pate helped us book a last-minute reservation at MIST Harlem. Beyond that, he is the guru of the ‘returning citizens’ movement which is very strong in New York City. For years, I have been writing about our people behind the walls and their struggles getting re-acclimated once coming back home. Mr. Pate has helped us to honor dozens of people who work with returning citizens so as to help them transition back to society successfully.
As we were reminded Friday, 70% of those released return to prison. America has 25% of the world’s inmates although it represents only 5% of the world’s population. While African Americans supposedly comprise 13% of America’s population, we are half of America’s inmates with Black women the fastest-growing demographic.
Clearly, something is fundamentally wrong with that picture.
The big picture is that we, as a people, have an estimated $1.6 trillion in annual disposable income. Can you imagine if we better target – say 5% of our individual spending to Black-owned businesses? We’d create jobs: That’s what would happen!
In any event, we continue to celebrate Black entrepreneurs and professionals as well as the people who support them regardless of race. To date, we have honored over 1,900 since 2011 in 9 US cities: New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, Atlanta, New Orleans, Birmingham, Las Vegas, and Tulsa. Lee Vaughan, our Executive Director and Owner of R.E.A.L. Radio, is working on taking the awards to London and has even had the pleasure of honoring Comedian D. L. Hughley.
Stay tuned to BMORENews.com for the next series of events!