African American business owners joined with legendary musician Kenny Gamble and religious leader Dr. Alyn Waller on Tuesday to launch a discount card they hope will encourage members of Philadelphia’s black community to spend their dollars at local black-owned businesses.
“We heard about a similar model in Detroit, so we borrowed from them,” said Michael Rashid, former president and CEO of AmeriHealth/Caritas.
“Strong black businesses are good for the entire community, with the potential to lower crime and create jobs,” he said. “All people should make a point of supporting black businesses.”
A broad coalition of Philadelphia leaders, City Council members, and business owners got behind development of the iBuyBlack card, which costs $10 and offers discounts of up to 15 percent every time cardholders shop at local companies.
“Our goal is to recruit 500 businesses and 10,000 Philadelphians to purchase the iBuyBlack discount card by the end of this year,” said Earl Harvey, sales director for iBuyBlack.org and a member of the African American Chamber of Commerce. Currently, there are about 1,500 cardholders.
Proceeds from the cards will go to support the Philadelphia Community of Leaders (PCOL), which hosts annual civic events such as Juneteenth, the June commemoration of the end of slavery in America.
“That’s a money-saver right up front,” he said.
Ebin Qadir, owner of Alpha to Omega Termite & Pest Control on Haverford Avenue, said he had heard about the iBuyBlack card through PCOL and planned to join and offer the maximum 15 percent discount to customers.
“It’s really good exposure for our business, and it’s the first time I’ve ever done something like this,” he said of his 37-year-old West Philadelphia-based company.
Dave Hudson, a West Philadelphia real estate broker, said he also plans to join up at iBuyBlack.org.
“My goal is to be one of the largest African American brokers” in a city of about 650,000 African American residents, he said.
Lin Thomas, chief executive of Supra Office Solutions in West Parkside, is considering joining because “as an accountant, I recognized the need for improved economics for African Americans. It’s a clear plan and an honest commitment.”
Rashid argued that “if we spent 9 percent of our collective dollars with black-owned businesses, we could employ every single man, woman, and child within the black community. Unemployment could be wiped out.”
The program harks back to the local black activist Dr. Leon Sullivan, said Mable Welborn, chair of the Leon Sullivan Charitable Trust. In fact, his name was invoked several times Tuesday.
Sullivan was a Philadelphia civil rights icon who fought apartheid in South Africa and encouraged black economic development at home. Sullivan Progress Plaza, which got a historical marker last year, was the first U.S. shopping center to be developed, owned, and operated by African Americans. Boycotts he organized helped integrate the ranks at major corporations such as Tasty Baking Co. and Coca-Cola and opened thousands of jobs to African Americans.
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By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
Many folks try to make a dollar out of 15 cents, but African-Americans don’t always take those nickels and dimes to a bank.
More than 18% of African-Americans don’t have traditional bank accounts, compared with 7% of all Americans, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. But where banks don’t fill the bill, communities have created their own solutions, including grass roots traditions and minority-owned banks and credit unions.
“People turn to the alternative forms of financing and credit because they don’t have the same access [to mainstream services],” says Vicki Bogan, associate professor of economics at Cornell University. “And that’s perfectly rational.”
For much of American history, legislation restricted minority access to mainstream financial services. Bogan points to segregation and Jim Crow laws that barred blacks from regular banks and forced them to look for other options.
One informal alternative is called a “sou-sou.” Also known as rotating savings and credit associations, sou-sous can help people save money without using a savings account.
Here’s how they work: Every week or so, the members each contribute a set amount of cash, and one member takes home the pool. This rotates until every member has received a payout. Members won’t see their savings grow, but in the end, the amount paid in equals the amount received. Prevalent in West African and Caribbean immigrant communities in the U.S., sou-sous are used virtually all over the world.
More formally, black-owned banks once flourished, Bogan says: At least 134 were founded in the U.S. between 1888 to 1934. And though there are fewer today, these banks and other nonstandard financing remain relevant.
Nikki Beasley is the executive director of Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services in Richmond, California, a nonprofit that connects low-income families to housing. She worked as a bank manager for 25 years and sees mistrust of banks and subtle cues from bankers as modern-day obstacles for people of color who want to enter the banking system.
“If a person doesn’t look a certain way or isn’t perceived to look [worthy of] service, the level of interaction and engagement tends to shift” on the banker’s part, Beasley says. That lack of engagement can discourage people from opening accounts.
Individual bank employees aren’t the only hurdle. Since 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has fined several banks for illegally denying fair access to credit or overcharging for loans because of customers’ race.
Black-owned banks can ease these worries for customers. Not every community has one, but online and mobile banking have made it easier for potential customers to find alternatives.
Last year, rapper Killer Mike encouraged black Americans to open accounts in minority-owned banks, kicking off the #BankBlack movement. Celebrities including Usher and Solange Knowles have also announced their support for black banks.
But Beasley says that while the internet can help spread awareness of black-owned banks, some consumers might meet a fully virtual experience with skepticism. “They may need an education component” to set up and learn to navigate online tools, she says.
For Maggie Anderson, switching to black-owned Liberty Bank was a matter of supporting her community.
Anderson is the author of “Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy,” a book based on her experience shopping solely at black-owned businesses for 12 months. She was having an anniversary dinner with her husband 10 years ago when something clicked.
“The whole time we were there, we talked about all the crises in our community, the poverty, unemployment…and then the check came and we paid the bill. And that’s when we realized that we are a part of the problem,” Anderson says. “Our people needed that money. Our businesses needed that money. Our community is only as strong as our businesses and banks.”
No matter how you choose to bank, it’s important to do your research, Bogan says. “Make sure you know what type of products and services you’re using, what are the costs, what are the benefits, what are the risks.”Post Views: 793
By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
WE MUST NEVER FORGET!!!
DEACONS FOR DEFENSE AND JUSTICE
On July 10, 1964, a group of African American men in Jonesboro, Louisiana led by Earnest “Chilly Willy” Thomas and Frederick Douglas Kirkpatrick founded the group known as The Deacons for Defense and Justice to protect members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) against Ku Klux Klan violence. Most of the “Deacons” were veterans of World War II and the Korean War. The Jonesboro chapter organized its first affiliate chapter in nearby Bogalusa, Louisiana led by Charles Sims, A.Z. Young and Robert Hicks. Eventually they organized a third chapter in Louisiana. The Deacons tense confrontation with the Klan in Bogalusa was crucial in forcing the federal government to intervene on behalf of the local African American community.
The Deacons were a driving force of Black Power that Stokely Carmichael echoed. Carmichael speaks about the Deacons when he writes, “Here is a group which realized that the ‘law’ and law enforcement agencies would not protect people, so they had to do it themselves…The Deacons and all other blacks who resort to self-defense represent a simple answer to a simple question: what man would not defend his family and home from attack?” The Deacons, according to Carmichael and many others, were the protection that the Civil Rights needed on local levels, as well as, the ones who intervened in places that the state and federal government fell short.
The Deacons were not the first champions of armed-defense during the Civil Rights Movement. Many activists and other proponents of non-violence protected themselves with guns. Fannie Lou Hamer, the eloquently blunt Mississippi militant who outraged Lyndon B. Johnson at the 1964 Democratic Convention, confessed that she kept several loaded guns under her bed. Others such as Robert F. Williams also practiced self-defense. Williams transformed his local NAACP branch into an armed self-defense unit, for which transgression he was denounced by the NAACP and hounded by the federal government (he found asylum in Cuba).
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was no stranger to the idea of self-defense. According to Annelieke Dirks, “Even Martin Luther King Jr.—the icon of nonviolence—employed armed bodyguards and had guns in his house during the early stages of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956. Glenn Smiley, an organizer of the strictly nonviolent and pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), observed during a house visit that the police did not allow King a weapon permit, but that ‘the place is an arsenal.” Efforts from those such as Smiley convinced Dr. King that any sort of weapons or “self-defense” could not be associated with someone holding King’s position. Dr. King agreed.
The African-American community felt that a response of action was crucial in curbing this terrorism given the lack of support and protection by State and Federal authorities. A group of African-American men in Jonesboro in Jackson Parish in north Louisiana, led by Earnest “Chilly Willy” Thomas and Frederick Douglas Kirkpatrick, founded the group in November 1964 to protect civil rights workers, their communities and their families against the Klan. Most of the Deacons were war veterans with combat experience from the Korean War and World War II. The Jonesboro chapter later organized a Deacons chapter in Bogalusa, Louisiana, led by Charles Sims, A. Z. Young and Robert Hicks. The Jonesboro chapter initiated a regional organizing campaign and eventually formed 21 chapters in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The militant Deacons’ confrontation with the Klan in Bogalusa was instrumental in forcing the federal government to invervene on behalf of the black community and enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act and neutralize the Klan.
Earnest “Chilly Willy” Thomas was born in Jonesboro, Louisiana, on November 20, 1935, in a time of extreme segregation. He believed that political reforms could be secured by force rather than moral appeal. The CORE had a freedom house in Jonesboro that became the target of the Klan. The practice referred to as “nigger knocking” was a time-honored tradition among whites in the rural South. Because of repeated attacks on the Freedom House, the Black community responded. Earnest Thomas was one of the first volunteers to guard the house. According to Lance Hill, “Thomas was eager to work with CORE, but he had reservations about the nonviolent terms imposed by the young activists.” Thomas, who had military training, quickly emerged as the leader of this budding defense organization that would guard the Jonesboro community in the day with their guns concealed and carried their guns openly during the cover of night to discourage any Klan activity. The history of the Civil Rights Movement focuses little on organizations such as the Deacons for a number of reasons. First, the dominant ideology of the Movement was one of practicing non-violence and this overarching view has been the accepted way to characterize the Civil Rights Movement. Second, threats to the lives of Deacons’ members required that secrecy be maintained to avoid terrorist attacks on their supporters, and they recruited mature and male members, in contrast to other more informal self-defense efforts in which women and teenagers also played a role. Finally, with the shift to Northern Black plight and the idea of Black Power emerging in major cities across America, the Deacons became yesterday’s news and organizations such as The Black Panther Party gained notoriety and became the publicized militant Black organization.
The tactics of the Deacons attracted the attention and concern of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Investigating the group over the years, the Bureau produced more than 1,500 pages of comprehensive and relatively accurate records on the Deacons, activities, largely through numerous informants close to or even inside the organization. Members of the Deacons were repeatedly questioned and intimidated by F.B.I. agents. One member, Harvie Johnson (the last surviving original member of the Deacons for Defense and Justice), was “interviewed” by two agents who asked only how the Deacons obtained their weapons, with no questions about Klan activity or police brutality ever asked. In February 1965, after a New York Times article about the Deacons, J. Edgar Hoover became interested in the group. Lance Hill offers Hoover’s reaction, which was sent to the field offices of the Bureau in Louisiana: “Because of the potential for violence indicated, you are instructed to immediately initiate an investigation of the DDJ [Deacons for Defense and Justice].” As was eventually exposed in the late 1970s, under its COINTELPRO program, the FBI was involved in many illegal activities to spy on and undermine organizations it deemed “a threat to the American way”. However, with the advent of other militant Black Power organizations, and the Black Power Movement becoming the more visible movement towards the latter 1960s, the involvement of the Deacons in the civil rights movement declined , with the presence of the Deacons all but vanishing by 1968Post Views: 1,477
By Elliot Booker — 3 years agoGlen Ford, BAR executive editor
“The grand plan is to reverse the demography of the Seventies by forcing Blacks out of the central cities and into suburbs and small towns, rendering Black people incapable of ever again launching a national movement headquartered in the urban centers.”
The urban saga of the 1950s, 60s and early 70s was white flight from the cities, fueled by massive public and private investment in the invention of suburbia. In the 21st century, the racial dynamic has been purposely reversed, as the window closes on Black majority cities—and on dreams of concentrated, Black urban political power.
The rapidly unfolding dispersal of Blacks from the cities, like the white invasion of the surrounding hinterlands in the previous era, is the result of deliberate state policies, dictated by finance capital. But, this time, the demographic makeover has been effectuated and politically finessed with the active collaboration of a Black misleadership class that, paradoxically, owes its existence to the concentration of Black populations during the Sixties and Seventies.
The de-Blackening of urban America is a wrenchingly painful and bloody amputation-in-progress. In a frenzy of demolition, the U.S. has lost a quarter million units of public housing since the mid-1990s, only a small fraction of which has been replaced with new public housing, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Black mayors and heavily Black city councils have, typically, bought into the notion that concentrations of poor Black people are, by definition, vectors of pathology, while concentrations of affluent whites are the indispensable ingredients of urban “renaissance.” It is the logic of apartheid, cloaked in phony economics.
“The de-Blackening of urban America is a wrenchingly painful and bloody amputation-in-progress.”
Gentrification and renaissance-making—euphemisms for Black-removal—are violent processes. Whole neighborhoods are condemned for “rehabilitation” from “blight”—another euphemism, since the targeted infestation is human. The real estate industry covets the land, but demands that it first be cleansed of undesirable inhabitants. This requires the ruthless application of police force, creating a hostile environment, especially for young Black males, whose mothers begin to seek an exit to the South or a nearby, Blackening suburb. It is no coincidence that police forces in “renaissance”-minded cities across the nation introduced draconian “stop-and-frisk,” “designated drug zone” and “anti-gang” policies in the Nineties, as gentrification went into high gear. They methodically created an unbearably hostile environment for unwanted families.
Gentrification requires the destabilization of the existing populations in targeted neighborhoods. Politicians that respond to the imperatives of capital—and that means virtually all big-city Democrats, of all races—acquiesce to or champion policies that destabilize the lives of their poor Black constituents, all the while claiming it is for their own good. The most powerful local government tool, other than the police, is the public school system. Gentrifying mayors across the country have sought and won control of local schools and used that power to make city life untenable for the “excess” Black populations of their cities.
“The school closings added new layers of instability to the lives of families on Chicago’s heavily Black south and west sides.”
No mayor has been more intent on driving Blacks from his city than Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s former chief of staff and close political ally. Building on the mayhem inflicted on Black Chicago by his predecessors, Emanuel caused the closing 50 schools. The result was catastrophic, as students were forced to transit unfamiliar gang turf to attend schools that were often no better than the shuttered ones in the own neighborhoods. Many kids died. “What people don’t understand is that if you are 16 years old and get on a bus, when you get off that bus you are gang-affiliated whether you are gang-affiliated or not,” said activist Jitu Brown .
Just as the closing of Chicago’s public housing disrupted gang turf and drug markets, setting off a huge increase in street killings, the school closings added new layers of instability to the lives of families on Chicago’s heavily Black south and west sides, the besieged neighborhoods where closings were concentrated. It was the last straw for some parents. As the Chicago Reporter wrote, in an article last December: “Some academics blame city officials for making it harder for poor African-Americans, in particular, to live in Chicago. They closed neighborhood schools and mental health clinics ; failed to rebuild public housing, dispersing thousands of poor black families across the region, and inadequately responded to gun violence, unemployment and foreclosures in black communities.”
“Building on the mayhem inflicted on Black Chicago by his predecessors, Emanuel caused the closing 50 schools.”
“It’s a menu of disinvestment,” says Elizabeth Todd-Breland, who teaches African-American history at the University of Illinois Chicago. “The message that public policy sends to black families in the city is that we’re not going to take care of you and if you just keep going away, that’s OK.”
The message is intentional—and effective. “Chicago’s public schools have lost more than 52,000 students in the past 10 years,” according to a report titled “The Bleeding of Chicago ,” by CityLab. “That’s because school closures sometimes prompt parents to leave the city altogether.” (Thanks to Richard Prince’s Journal-isms for bringing this information to a larger audience.)
In less than two decades, Chicago lost 250,000 Black residents, one quarter of its total Black population. That’s more than the Black populations of New Orleans and Atlanta , and equal to the Black population of Manhattan, New York City. And, it’s happening all over the country, because Black removal from the cities is the national policy of both corporate parties.
The grand plan is to dilute the Black presence, to reverse the demography of the Seventies by forcing Blacks out of the central cities and into suburbs and small towns, leaving the cities to affluent whites and rendering Black people incapable of ever again launching a national movement headquartered in the urban centers.
“Chicago lost 250,000 Black residents, one quarter of its total Black population.”
Black politics is in an existential crisis. This state of affairs has come about, not because Black people failed to vote or to exercise political agency, but because they followed the lead of a grasping and self-centered Black misleadership class that is hopelessly entangled with the Democratic Party and its Wall Street and Silicon Valley funders—the same forces that seek to neutralize the Black political presence in the U.S. Barack Obama gave the game away in his address to the Democratic National Convention, in 2004: “There is no Black America…there is only the United States of America.” But most Black people failed to understand his meaning.
However, the folks that formed the Black Is Back Coalition, in 2009, had heard Obama, loud and clear. There is little time left to preserve Black majorities in Baltimore, Birmingham, Detroit, Cleveland, Savannah and Newark (it’s has already been lost in Washington, DC, and will soon slip away in Atlanta), or to maintain strong pluralities in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Norfolk.
Black people can only maintain a powerful and secure presence in the cities through a vibrant, independent, self-determinationist politics. Otherwise, Black dispersal will proceed along its bloody, maddening course, and at a quickening pace.
That’s why the Black is Back Coalition is holding an Electoral School, April 7 to 9 , in St. Louis, Missouri (which lost its slim Black majority in this century). The Coalition is guided by a 19-point National Black Political Agenda for Self-Determination, a document that addresses virtually every issue confronting Black people. Below are four points that are particularly relevant to the push-out of Blacks from the cities:
Black Community Control of the Police. We demand the immediate withdrawal of all domestic military occupation forces from Black communities. This democratic demand assumes the ability of Black people to mobilize for our own security and to redefine the role of the police so that it no longer functions as an agency imposed on us from the outside.
Roll Back and End Mass Black Incarceration. The U.S. mass Black incarceration regime is designed to contain, terrorize and criminalize an entire people, with the result that one out of eight prison inmates on the planet is a Black person in the U.S. As a minimal demand, every U.S. incarcerating authority must take immediate steps to roll back the national prison and jail population to 1972 levels, resulting in the release of 4 out of 5 current inmates in a process overseen by representatives of the imprisoned peoples’ communities––primarily people of color. As a maximum demand, all Africans must be immediately released from U.S. prisons and jails and our community given the democratic right to determine their fate.
Halt Gentrification through the empowerment, stabilization and restoration of traditional Black neighborhoods. Black people have the right to develop, plan and preserve our own communities. No project shall be considered “development” that does not serve the interests of the impacted population, nor should any people-displacing or otherwise disruptive project be allowed to proceed without the permission of that population. Peoples that have been displaced from our communities by public or private development schemes have the Right to Return to our communities, from New Orleans to Harlem.
Right to Free Education through post-graduate level. Public schools must meet the highest standards of excellence, under the supervision of educational boards directly elected by the communities they serve. We oppose both for-profit schooling and philosophies of teaching that put profit over human development, and we support democratic educational values and strategies that empower students and their communities to determine their own destinies. In the immediate term, Black people in the U.S. need education that facilitates our liberation from white supremacy and corporate hegemony.
Make arrangements to attend the Black Is Back Coalition Electoral School. It’s a lot later than you think.Post Views: 999