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Black Wall Street

3 mins read

Jaylen Brown plans to use $304 Million Contract to Create “Black Wall Street” in Boston

Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown made headlines when he signed a record-breaking five-year, $304 million contract, the richest deal in NBA history.

However, Brown’s ambitions extend far beyond personal success and financial gain. In a press conference and subsequent interviews, he revealed his plans to give back to the community, particularly in Boston, where he aims to bridge the wealth gap and create a thriving ecosystem he refers to as “Black Wall Street.”

Through various initiatives and collaborations, Brown aspires to make a lasting impact on his community and inspire positive change throughout the world.

A Commitment to Giving Back

When asked about his intentions with the newfound generational wealth, Jaylen Brown expressed his deep-rooted commitment to giving back to the community. He believes that athletes, as influential figures, have a responsibility to leverage their platform to make the world a better place. Brown emphasizes that despite overcoming barriers to reach the NBA, he remains dedicated to representing and supporting the communities he comes from.

The Vision for “Black Wall Street” in Boston

Jaylen Brown envisions a multi-faceted initiative to address the wealth disparity in Boston, which has consistently ranked among the top five cities in this regard. His primary goal is to create a project similar to the historical “Black Wall Street” of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was known for its thriving African-American community and successful businesses in the early 20th century.

Brown aims to establish programs that not only bridge the wealth gap but also promote equality across the city. By leveraging his platform and collaborating with various stakeholders, he intends to stimulate economic growth, create job opportunities, and empower minorities in Boston. Brown believes that a self-sufficient, fully integrated hub can be achieved through commercial ventures, mixed commercial spaces, real estate development, and residential initiatives.

The Path Forward

Recognizing the magnitude of his vision, Jaylen Brown acknowledges that the journey towards creating “Black Wall Street” in Boston will be challenging and time-consuming. However, he remains optimistic about the possibilities, thanks to the support of political leaders, the NBA Players Association, and organizations that represent the players’ interests.

Brown’s long-term plan involves collaborating with influential partners, government officials, and community leaders to bring his vision to fruition. By combining resources and ideas, he aims to highlight the potential of minorities and simultaneously address the wealth gap, not just in Boston but also setting an example for other cities worldwide.

10 mins read

Durham Aims to Preserve The Black Wall Street Legacy With an Ownership Program

Durham, N.C., was once known nationally for its “Black Wall Street,” a cluster of flourishing Black owned financial institutions and businesses that sprang up around Parrish Street during the Jim Crow era, including some iconic insurance and finance firms such as Mechanics and Farmers Bank and North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.

With 1960s urban renewal projects and construction of a freeway that divided the area, the district’s energy and stability dissipated.

Despite this, the city of 311,000 people, around 40 percent of them African American, still boasts a large number of small businesses owned by African Americans. That segment has even seen growth in recent years, and a network of entrepreneurs organizes an annual Black Wall Street Homecoming event.

Now, propelled by a national fellowship program, the city of Durham is building a plan and a set of tools to help preserve black-owned businesses in the face of an aging baby boomer generation, a new knowledge economy and 21st-century business model shifts that traditional entrepreneurs ignore at their peril.

“Durham has a rich history of African American businesses. Our project is designed to build on that legacy,” says Andre Pettigrew, director of Durham’s office of economic and workforce development.

Many of the city’s black-owned companies are 30 or more years old, with uncertain futures, according to Pettigrew. “Restaurants, funeral homes, auto repair shops, the gamut,” he says. “The owners are ready to transfer. [But] in their families, many of the kids have gone on to college and middle-class professional lives. They’re not interested in running the businesses. So succession planning is a big part of what we’re talking about.”

Pettigrew is one of three city employees serving as fellows in the Shared Equity in Economic Development (SEED) Fellowship, developed by the National League of Cities and the Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI). The fellowship is a year-long program to equip a cohort of cities with expertise, resources and tools to explore employee ownership as a means of retaining businesses and the jobs and wealth they create. Durham is one of four cities selected for the inaugural SEED cohort, along with Atlanta, Miami and Philadelphia.

Each SEED city has a team comprising three fellows from city departments and a community fellow from an organization that knows local small businesses. Durham’s team comprises Pettigrew; Deborah Giles, director of the city’s equal opportunity/equity assurance department; Chris Dicky, the office of economic and workforce development’s economic development coordinator; and community fellow LaTasha Best-Gaddy, a business counselor with the Small Business and Technology Development Center at Durham’s historically black North Carolina Central University.

DAWI Executive Director Melissa Hoover says the fellowship was designed to promote peer-to-peer learning, with fellows traveling to the other participating cities to share ideas and best practices and learn from an advisory panel made up of community stakeholders and local and outside experts.

While the cities had some flexibility in choosing projects, all four are focusing on educating longtime business owners on preserving their legacy by transferring ownership to employees. Possible strategies include conversion to a worker-owned cooperative, in which the business is collectively owned and managed by the workers, or transition to an employee stock ownership plan, in which the company is owned wholly or partly by employees through a trust, and employees cash out on leaving the company.

In mid-November in Durham, the fellowship group toured small businesses in predominantly African American business corridors. Speaking face-to-face with owners — several of whom are right at the stage of pondering what would happen to their business when they’re gone — opened the group’s eyes to a variety of succession planning opinions and challenges.

One owner of an automotive business who is nearing retirement said he is already in the process of selling the business. Although he has good employees, he does not feel ready to hand down his brand — his most precious asset — to them.

“So here we had a business owner who’d started from ground-up, who didn’t trust his brand identity with anyone else,” says Pettigrew. “So he was helping his employees become employed elsewhere. He recognized that being an owner and an employee are two different things. That transition to ownership requires risk-taking and accountability.”

This testimony helped cement for Pettigrew and his team the importance of including supporting employees as business owners and managers in ownership conversion scenarios.

When employees are prepared and able, collective ownership has advantages. “It’s one way to mitigate the fact that there aren’t a lot of individuals with enough assets to [purchase a business],” Pettigrew says. “For one person, it’s highly risky. You need partners. So in this case, you know the others and you know the business. In some ways, it’s the most-informed choice of starting a business. You already know its strengths.”

Raising awareness of succession planning will be a key activity — and not just for the business owners and employees, Pettigrew notes, but for technical service providers, business planners, lenders and small business advisors.

If they can keep those businesses around, there is ample opportunity on the horizon. Durham’s population is in a period of rapid growth, welcoming 20 new residents every day, according to Pettigrew. Many are drawn by the area’s thriving information technology, bio/life sciences and advanced manufacturing sectors. The growth and change bring pressures far beyond the natural cycle of business owner retirement.

“In a generation, North Carolina and Durham have gone through a major transformation, from tobacco, textiles and furniture to a knowledge economy. We are challenged, in that we’re at risk of gentrification — at risk of leaving underemployed and unemployed people behind if we don’t have intentional strategies to support them.”

An influx of professionals with money to spend could be a blessing or a curse for existing businesses, Pettigrew notes. Those with a desired product and modern service delivery could reap additional revenue, while those who are “tired and not ready to adapt” to disruptive technologies might succumb to declining sales and higher rents.

When the year-long fellowship winds down next summer, Pettigrew hopes the city of Durham will have gained deeper connections to its older entrepreneur community and a better understanding of succession planning. “This is not about doing 50 deals by the end of this year. It’s determining if it’s a viable option and [having a plan in place],” he says. “It’s not a panacea, but it’s one oar in the water.”

The SEED fellowship comes at a time of growing interest by cities and advocates in employee ownership as a means of increasing access to business ownership, especially for groups often shut out of the economy, such as immigrants and people of color. There is concern that the wave of aging baby boomers could lead to loss of community anchor businesses.

Growing income and wealth inequality has shined a light on the need to build and retain wealth — businesses owned by baby-boomers at or nearing retirement age are valued at an estimated $10 trillion, according to the Exit Planning Institute. Responding to these forces, the recent bipartisan federal Main Street Employee Ownership Act aims to improve assistance and outreach for employee ownership.

“After the recession, a lot of individual wealth was wiped out, especially in the African American community, where most of the wealth was in our homes,” says Pettigrew. “They say the first path to increasing wealth is home ownership — and right after that is being a business owner. So to put employees on the path to business ownership is an important part of this model.”

But, he notes, “If you don’t have an intentional exit strategy, that wealth doesn’t get passed on.”


Source: Next City

10 mins read

Economic Activism: A Viable Long Term Strategy

To state the painfully obvious, innocent Black people are being murdered by police on a consistent basis. The Prison Industrial Complex continues to close in on us. Our school systems are deplorable.

Many of us don’t have access to healthy food options. Our neighborhoods are being gentrified. And no one is being held accountable.

Economic Activism

In response, we are using various forms of social and political activism including marching, demonstrating and protesting. While these are good and necessary strategies in the short-term, as a long-term solution, we need to incorporate economic activism on a continuous basis.

Economic Activism

This is essentially the act of using your money, wealth or economic power to influence the changes that you want to see and that align with your political or social values.

Ways to practice Economic Activism

1) Boycott

Boycotts can be an effective way to bring awareness to an issue and publicly express dissatisfaction, anger and frustration. They have a long history of contributing to social change.


However, for a boycott related to Black dollars to be successful, alternative product and institutional options are necessary. If consumers are being told not to buy items at one place, they should be informed of where else they can find said items.

Another key to an effective boycott is concentrated focus and persistence. We can’t boycott for a few days or weeks, only to go right back and shop at the same place later.  The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted 381 days! That’s the type of dedication needed to create a change.

It’s important to realize that, in terms of products to choose from, we have more options than we may realize. There are a multitude of Black owned companies that offer quality products and services. However, we need to expand the variety of products that we offer. We need Black owned companies that can meet the demand we create in sectors like electronics, household appliances, and furniture to name a few.

2) Practice Group Economics

a) Support Black Owned Businesses

From the 1880’s into the 1960’s, a majority of American states enforced segregation through “Jim Crow” laws. Black people were prevented from patronizing white businesses and establishments. This forced us to create our own businesses and trade with each other. The Black dollar circulated within the community several times over before leaving, bringing rise to hundreds of successful Black businesses.


Due to racism and resentment, businesses in thriving communities were literally burned to the ground. After de-segregation, Black businesses started losing their customer base to white businesses outside the community.

In his book, “Powernomics,” Dr. Claude Anderson states “Black people have enriched every group, except themselves.” Based on the responses and messages that ShoppeBlack has received, it’s clear that people want to support Black businesses.

It’s not as hard as you may think. If its a matter of location, start with an online business. After some research and staying connected to SHOPPE BLACK, you’ll find out about some that are close to you depending on where you live.

There are at least a dozen other websites and apps that have been developed over the past couple of years that can direct you to Black owned businesses as well. Check them out.

b) Support Black Owned Banks

According to Federal Reserve data, although 13.2% of the U.S. population is African-American, less than half of 1% of U.S. banks are Black owned. The banks that do exist have been struggling due to the 2008 financial crisis and a lack of support from the Black community.

These banks play an important role in revitalizing communities that other financial institutions ignore. They provide services that allow many to avoid predatory payday loan establishments and check cashing places. They also provide needed home and business loans as well as lines of credit that are not readily available to a lot of Black business and home owners.

Citizens Trust Bank Next Generation Advisory Board

3) Form or Join Investment Groups.

Investment groups (not to be confused with investment clubs) are a great way to pool resources in order to:

a) Purchase income-producing assets (residential or commercial). One of the surest ways to accumulate wealth is to invest in rental properties: houses, apartment buildings, office complexes, etc.

b) Purchase shares or equity interest in corporations or other businesses. Money raised can also be invested in the creation or expansion of businesses in sectors where Black people are underrepresented but consume the most e.g textiles, footwear, watches, household appliances, toys, and electronic equipment.

c) Invest in projects like films, plays, arts institutions or the formation of media companies where we can control the images and the messages we send and receive.

4) Think Globally

While building a strong economic structure in the U.S., Black businesses and consumers should also consider forming relationships with entrepreneurs and consumers on the Continent, the Caribbean, Europe, Canada, Brazil, and other parts of South America. All of these regions have a high population of Black people. Pan-Africanist concepts and practices are critical now more than ever.

It seems as if our predecessors, without the use of social media, the internet, and fewer resources, were organizing more – Pan African Congresses, convenings, and dialogues – than we’re doing today. It’s high time that we defer back to the groundwork that’s already been laid for us by W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Kwame Nkrumah.

Ghanaian entrepreneur and investor Sangu Delle
Ghanaian entrepreneur and investor Sangu Delle

This is group economics on an international level and opens up a market of a billion people. There are thousands upon thousands of quality products made abroad.

In 2010, President Obama announced the National Export Initiative in his State of the Union address to renew and revitalize efforts to promote American exports abroad.


70 percent of the world’s purchasing power is located outside the U.S and less than one percent of America’s 30 million companies export. That’s unfortunate because if there’s one thing the U.S. has, its the reputation that the products from here are of quality and excellent customer service. U.S. products are in high demand overseas.

Visit for information on the opportunities in overseas markets, federal resources, and upcoming trade events.

 5) Control the Distribution Channel


A distribution channel is a network of individuals and organizations involved in getting a product or service from the producer to the customer. It can include manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and even the internet. 


The beauty supply industry is one of many where Black people are almost non-existent in all parts of the supply chain other than as retailers and consumers.

The book “On My Own: Korean Businesses and Race Relations in America”, describes the explosion of the wig business in South Korea in the 1960s and explains how this is instrumental in the Korean domination of the Black hair supply industry.


In 1965, the Korean Wig merchants joined together and convinced the Korean government to ban the export of the raw hair, giving Koreans control over the manufacturing extensions and human hair wigs. Between 1965 and 1978, the YH Trade wig manufacturing company exported $100 million worth of wigs. The wigs did especially well with Black consumers. Now Koreans control the market and Black entrepreneurs are being shut out in order to protect the monopoly.


We need to become the manufacturers and distributors of the products that we use the most.

In Part 2 we’ll discuss the issues that these different forms of economic activism need to address.

-Tony O. Lawson

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