by Selena Hill
June 26, 2019
The BE financial services companies include the largest black banks, investment banks, asset managers, and private equity firms. These companies manage trillions of assets as they diversify the capital markets and serve the needs of individual and institutional clients from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.
|2||Liberty Bank and Trust Co.||591.541|
|3||Carver Bancorp Inc. (Carver Federal Savings Bank) *||590.000|
|5||Citizens Bancshares Corp. (Citizens Trust Bank) *||411.073|
|6||Broadway Financial Corp. (Broadway Federal Bank) *||407.170|
|7||Harbor Bankshares Corp. (The Harbor Bank of Maryland)||282.599|
|8||First Independence Bank||257.244|
|9||M&F Bancorp Inc. (Mechanics & Farmers Bank)||257.200|
|10||City National Bank of New Jersey||167.570|
|12||Citizens Savings Bank & Trust Co.||103.080|
|13||Unity National Bank||93.832|
|14||Tri-State Bank of Memphis||82.336|
|15||Commonwealth National Bank||47.261|
READ MORE AT: https://www.blackenterprise.com/be100s/financialservices/
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By Elliot Booker — 7 months ago
By Char Adams Feb 6, 2020
When he wasn’t helping some 600 slaves escape through the Underground Railroad, David Ruggles was running a bookstore. In 1828, Ruggles opened a grocery store in New York City and later, as he became involved in the burgeoning abolitionist movement, opened a reading room and a bookstore for Black Americans. It was the nation’s first Black-owned bookstore.
In a building in what is now known as the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan, Ruggles sold anti-slavery works and later published the Mirror of Liberty, known as the nation’s earliest Black magazine. This made him especially concerning to slavecatchers and anti-abolitionists, because not only was Ruggles facilitating escapes via the Underground Railroad, but he was also disseminating politically problematic works. Still, he ran a boarding house, reading room, and the bookstore through riots and attacks before leaving New York in 1839. He was repeatedly beaten and jailed for his efforts.
Born a free man, Ruggles was an ardent advocate for abolition. He even helped free Frederick Douglass from slavery by hiding Douglass in his own home. With Ruggles gone from New York, though, his store was no more. But its legacy lived on: His business was the first in a long tradition of Black-owned bookstores with ties to Black political liberation.
“Black bookstores have continuously been hubs for the community to simply be with one another.”
Before Ruggles, the community’s need for Black literature was largely met by Black bibliophiles like him who went to great lengths to collect books, periodicals, and newspapers by Black writers that focused on Black life. Their goal was to make Black literature available to the Black community in reading rooms at a time when Black people were routinely told no books by or about them existed.
Today’s brick-and-mortar Black bookstores continue the legacy of the space that Ruggles created. Black bookshops, owned and operated by Black people, cater to the community with written works by and for Black readers. Many shops also feature a variety of writings by non-Black authors. For all their transformation over the centuries, though, Black bookstores have continuously been hubs for the community to simply be with one another.
Historically, Black independent booksellers have been viewed as the keepers of Black culture. And just as Ruggles’s store allowed him to purvey abolitionist works, many Black bookshops have been closely tied to political movements of their day. Because of this, the stores have long been sites of liberation — and government interest.
“They felt he was running some type of movement here because he was promoting Black culture.”
Some of the earliest business owners to follow Ruggles’s example were Lewis Michaux, an outspoken activist who owned the famous National Memorial African Bookstore, a Harlem landmark that opened in the 1930s, and Alfred and Bernice Ligon of the Aquarian Book Shop in Los Angeles, which operated as early as the 1940s and was a stopping place for writers like Maya Angelou and Alex Haley. In the 1960s, more than a century after Ruggles ran his store, the daughter of Dawud Hakim, the owner of Hakim’s Bookstore in Philadelphia, heard her father talk about the FBI agents perched outside his shop.
“People used to stand across the street from the store and take pictures,” Yvonne Blake tells Mic about her father’s store. “They felt he was running some type of movement here because he was promoting Black culture.”
In 1968, then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered FBI outposts across the country to investigate Black bookstores and their owners as part of COINTELPRO, the infamous counterintelligence program that worked to combat the Black Power movement. Each office was ordered to spy on “Black extremist and/or African-type bookstores” to determine whether they served as secret meeting places or hubs for Black extremists.
Some 140 miles away from Hakim’s Bookstore, veterans of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a major direct-action civil rights organization formed in the early 1960s, were having their own run-ins with federal law enforcement at the Drum and Spear Bookstore in Washington, D.C. The store quickly became a target for federal law enforcement because of its links to prominent Black activists like Stokely Carmichael. Judy Richardson, an early member of SNCC who worked in the bookstore, recalls a pair of FBI agents visiting the shop.
“It was so obvious who they were,” Richardson tells Mic. “These two white guys, they always looked the same. Very buttoned up, standard-issue shoes. They were buying up Mao’s ‘[Little] Red Book’ and all of the revolutionary literature … to ‘prove’ the case that we were left-wing and to minimize any support we might have in the public sphere. It was an attempt to smear us.”
“They were tracking us,” she continues. “We all had [FBI] files.” The FBI’s monitoring of the group is well-documented, with several files made public by the FBI.
In 1971, Hakim was quoted calling the operation “a waste of taxpayers’ money,” per The Atlantic. “We are trying to educate our people about their history and culture,” he lamented, adding that the FBI should have been pursuing other priorities like “organized crime and dope peddlers.”
“Black bookstores are political spaces. That connection to politics was absolutely essential.”
The feds’ interest in Black booksellers spanned the country. In New York City, booksellers like Michaux and Una Mulzac of Liberation Bookstore were monitored. Edward Vaughn of Vaughn’s Bookstore in Detroit was singled out too, along with the owners of Denver’s Sundiata bookstore. Even Martin Sostre, whose Afro Asian Book Shop was located in relatively lesser-known Buffalo, New York, was under investigation for simply selling Black literature, as University of Baltimore history professor Joshua Clark Davis notes in his book From Head Shops to Whole Foods: The Rise and Fall of Activist Entrepreneurs.
“Black bookstores are political spaces,” Davis tells Mic. “That connection to politics was absolutely essential to these bookstores. So many Black activists, so many Black people who started bookstores in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the vast majority of them came out of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. You have folks who come out of movements and start bookstores. That’s a pattern that repeats itself.”
The late ‘60s marked a sharp increase in Black independent bookstores, and the timing of the surge — during the height of the Black Power Movement — was no coincidence. Hoover was right about one thing: Black bookstores were gathering places rooted in activism. But they went far beyond politics, too. These shops catered to the community and provided a space for Black people to come and not only read, but also talk about what they read. Chester and Lillie Owens and James and Dorothy McField, two Black couples, understood this full-well when they opened The Hub in 1965 in Kansas City, Kansas. They served tea and gourmet foods to those who came to the bookstore to simply hang out, and sold African clothing and jewelry, according to Kansas City-based NPR affiliate KCUR.
“[It was about] the young people who would sit down on the floor of The Hub and read the books,” Chester Owens told KCUR in October. “[Profit] had nothing to do with it.”
The number of Black bookstores dwindled along with the Black Power Movement in the mid- to late-’70s. And the dismal economy of the decade only led to more closures. However, in the ‘90s, major Black cultural and political moments — like the Los Angeles Riots, the Million Man March, and hip-hop’s golden age — led to a sharp increase in such stores.There was a renewed interest in Black history, especially after New York’s Howard Beach killing in the late ‘80s and a series of fire-bombings at southern Black churches in the ‘90s, according to the Los Angeles Times. Major bookstore chains took notice and ramped up their African-American book offerings, the Times reported then. But the variety and culturally specific titles that the major retailers lacked, Black independent bookstores offered to literature-thirsty Black communities.
“It was a vehicle for people looking for new ideas and thoughts from a Black or African-centered perspective.”
Akbar Watson, director of the Boynton Beach, Florida-based Pyramid Books, launched his shop in 1993 after he and his friends grew tired of having little access to books by Black writers and about Black life, academia, and culture.At the time, he says, “reading was hot.”
“It became political,” Watson tells Mic of his store. “I didn’t start [the store] to become political, but I was housing [books] with universal issues that catered toward Black people. It was a vehicle for people looking for new ideas and thoughts from a Black or African-centered perspective. The customers demanded that. It quickly became political because it was part of the business. It’s what people wanted.”
The number of Black bookstores peaked with at least 200 in the mid-‘90s, Davis says, before plummeting over the years to just 54 in 2014, according to the African American Literature Book Club. The number slightly recovered to reach 70 in 2016, per the database. When you put those numbers in context, you realize how precarious the situation was for Black bookstores: The Open Education Database notes that independent bookstores overall endured a precipitous drop too, thanks to the rise of Amazon and major chains — from more than 4,000 independent stores in the early ‘90s to just 1,900 by 2011.
But now, yet another revolutionary political climate has resulted in a new wave of Black-owned bookstores, even as brick-and-mortar bookstores struggle in the shadow of online titans like Amazon. Today, the African American Literature Book Club estimates that about 120 Black-owned bookstores are operating in the U.S.
“People are realizing bookstores offer something special,” Davis says, crediting “everything from Obama’s second term and Trayvon Martin to Black Lives Matter and Black Twitter” for drawing increased attention to racism and injustice and fueling an uptick in interest in Black life.“Black bookstores are uniquely positioned to serve citizens who want to learn more about Black history and culture or learn about racism,” Davis says.
Of course, the books are part of the appeal, too. The latest increase in Black bookstores may also be due in part to the “huge number of excellent new Black authors,” Davis says. Writers like Tressie McMillan Cottom, Brittney Cooper, Roxane Gay, and Kiese Laymon have produced works that fly from the shelves and spark meaningful conversations, Davis says, and Black bookstores have long been a stopping place for Black writers promoting their work.
“Whatever the country is going through, the Black community is feeling it 17 times harder.”
Still, bookstore ownership is known as one of the most challenging plights in retail. Many of the stores still in existence have relied on monetary help from their communities. Blake, who still runs her father’s store in Philadelphia, has turned to crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe to keep the doors open. Other shops, like Seattle’s Life Enrichment Bookstore, have done the same.
This was also the case for Noëlle Santos, the owner of The Lit. Bar in the Bronx, New York. Despite having no bookselling (or retail) experience, she stepped in to fill a void after the neighborhood’s only bookstore — a Barnes & Noble — closed. She used her social media prowess and several pop-up shops to establish the Lit. Bar name before opening the store in 2019.
“Whatever the country is going through, the Black community is feeling it 17 times harder,” Santos tells Mic. “It’s not that we lack the talent — we lack the investments. We have to go out and get it.”
Santos’s shop includes a wine bar, and she additionally holds offsite events and even provides textbooks for nearby schools. Her model is similar to the one that held up Black bookshops in decades past. Just as Lit. Bar provides a space for the community to gather, so does Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books in Philadelphia (owned by Marc Lamont Hill), WORD in Brooklyn, and many more.
While we enjoy this most recent wave of Black bookstores, it’s hard not to wonder whether some new pressure — political, social, or economic — will once again diminish their number. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that these shops are as resilient as the people who occupy them. Santos, for example, sees her business not as an entry in history but as an investment in what’s to come.
“I never thought about making my mark on history. That never registered,” she says. “I’m thinking about the future and how much impact I can make.”Post Views: 1,663
By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
A female attorney was recently jailed in Youngstown, Ohio for refusing to remove a Black Lives Matter pin in the courtroom.
According to WKBN, Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich ruled attorney Andrea Burton was in contempt of court for refusing his orders to remove her Black Lives Matter pin while in court. Burton was sentenced to five days in jail for disobeying the judge’s order, but has since been released on a stay while her own attorneys appeal the decision. She can continue to stay out of jail as long as she doesn’t wear the pin in court.
“No one wearing an American flag button, no one wearing a crucifix or a Star of David would be removed, so why this particular statement bothered him so much is bothersome,” community activist and attorney Kim Akins told WKBN.
Milich cited a previous Supreme Court case prohibiting political speech in the courtroom as precedent for asking Burton to remove her pin.
“A judge doesn’t support either side. A judge is objective and tries to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have a fair hearing, and it was a situation where it was just a violation of the law,” Milich said. “There’s a difference between a flag, a pin from your church or the Eagles and having a pin that’s on a political issue.”
The Youngstown branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has said it is monitoring Burton’s case closely, as the judge’s decision to find her in contempt of court may be a violation of Burton’s civil rights.
“We will do all that the NAACP Youngstown can do to ensure that Attorney Burton’s Constitutional rights are not being violated,” said Youngstown NAACP president George Freeman in a public statement.
Burton and her attorney have not yet publicly commented on the case.
AFRICANGLOBE By: Zach Cartwright
By Elliot Booker — 5 months ago
How to Fight the Black Tax
Author and personal finance consultant Shawn Rochester, ’02, discusses how to address the financial costs of conscious and unconscious anti-black discrimination.
Personal finance consultant Shawn Rochester, ’02, noticed something curious about the many studies and articles written about racial discrimination.
“Over the years I would read articles and studies about discrimination against black people in various markets—for example, housing, automotive, financial services, the job search, etc.—and the impact of that discrimination just seemed like a tax to me,” he said.
Rochester is CEO of Connecticut-based Good Steward LLC, a financial advisory and education company that uses workshops, coaching, and online courses to help people—mainly African Americans, such as Rochester himself—manage cash flow, eliminate debt, and maximize retirement assets. He sees clients who, despite successful careers, aren’t on track to retire in comfort.
“There is a category of folks whom some would consider to have robust incomes, but they lack information about how to maximize their cash flow or how to reduce debt and maximize their assets at retirement by using vehicles like the tax-deferred retirement plans that are already in place for us,” he said. While these people generally don’t have the balance sheet to attract high-quality financial advice or coaching, they actually could accumulate significant resources if they had access to better information. Rochester’s mother faced a similar problem when she emigrated from Barbados to the United States. “She was a motivated saver but didn’t know what to do and wasn’t around people who could give her good advice,” he said.
In helping individuals with their finances, Rochester became concerned with the broader questions of why the African American community had an ingrained deficit in wealth and what individuals could do about it. This led him to write a book, The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America. Rochester spoke with Chicago Booth Magazine’s
CBM: What is the Black Tax?
Rochester: The Black Tax is the financial cost of discrimination against black people in America by people and/or institutions that have conscious or unconscious antiblack bias.
CBM: Why did you decide to write this book?
Rochester: I wrote The Black Tax because I wanted to help reduce the wealth gap by creating a paradigm shift that would help create jobs and businesses, and expand businesses in the black community by increasing the demand for products, services, and intellectual capital from black people and companies. I knew that simply asking people to buy products and services from black-owned companieswould not be very effective because many people view doing business with black entrepreneurs as a charity or a cost. I learned long ago that if you want people to act differently, you must get them to think differently. So I looked at research from the finest institutions in the country to see if I could quantify the financial costs of past and current antiblack discrimination. The results were shocking because the impact, scale, and continuity of antiblack discrimination was and still is far larger than what most people would have expected. This robust, data-driven approach generally helps readers to see the problem with greater clarity and gets them thinking about what they can do to help solve it.
CBM: The problems you describe seem so overwhelming. Where do you even start?
Rochester: Black people in America own just 2 percent of US wealth. This means that 1.4 million businesses with employees, 6 million jobs associated with those businesses, and well over $8 trillion in wealth that should belong to the black community are simply not there. These gaps in jobs, businesses, and wealth are driving almost all of the socioeconomic problems affecting the black community. So yes, these challenges can appear to be overwhelming.
The first thing we should start with is a focus on what we can do together to help close these gaps. In the final section of The Black Tax, I talk about an economic framework called PHD, which stands for “Purchase, Hire, and Deposit” in ways that create jobs and create and expand businesses in the black community. PHD accomplishes this by ensuring that (1) a greater portion of consumer spending is aimed at black enterprise, (2) black people and businesses are properly represented on payrolls and in supply chains, and (3) more resources are placed in black financial institutions to ensure that these businesses have the capital they need to grow.
This is important because Americans spend very little on black enterprise at all. For example, governments spend less than 2 percent of their supply chain expenditures on black businesses. Corporations and institutions spend less than 2 percent of their supply chain expenditures on black businesses, and even black consumers spend about 2 percent of their collective incomes on black business. In addition to this, only about $4 out of every $10,000 in the US banking system is in a black bank. This dearth of spending with black enterprise stifles job creation and business development in the black community. Because spending and investment levels with black enterprise are currently so low, even small changes in our spending and deposit levels can have an enormous impact on job creation.
CBM: What about diversity programs in hiring and purchasing? Are those working?
Rochester: These programs are well-intentioned but have not been particularly effective. As I’ve mentioned, supply chain spending with black business is extremely low, despite decades of efforts and black participation rates in almost all high-growth, high-compensation fields. And even at these very low participation rates, black people earn far less than their white peers, regardless of their education level. It would be a stretch to claim that these programs are working unless your comparison is the Jim Crow period of legal segregation, where black people were barred outright from participating, regardless of skill or competency level. In those days, the supply chain spend with black enterprise was effectively zero and today it is less than 2 percent. Given the data, and the roughly 74 years since the end of the Jim Crow period, one would be hard-pressed to say that these programs are working. Part of the problem is that terms such as diversity, minority, and inclusion, while well-intentioned, do not mean black. Those terms are generally euphemisms for “not white male.” This is why companies can have “effective” diversity programs while having marginal to no impact on creating jobs and businesses in the black community.
For example, a company could decide to create economic opportunities for women by allocating more of their supply chain spend to women-owned businesses, which is a wonderful thing to do. If we look at women-owned businesses that have employees, we find that they generate about $1.2 trillion a year in revenue. But if we ask how much of that revenue is from black-women-owned businesses, we find that it’s less than 2 percent of the total. So for every $100 of incremental supply chain spend on women-owned businesses, it’s not until the 99th dollar that black women see any benefit.
Knowing this information helps decision-makers better understand the true scope of the problem. Because people associate minority, diversity, and inclusion programs with black people, they tend to think that the major beneficiaries of these programs are black people, which is not the case, particularly when it comes to supply chain spending.
CBM: Are there ways to get more African Americans to start more businesses?
Rochester: Yes, we can certainly create more black businesses and service providers, but the issue is, will there be incremental demand for those businesses? While most people focus on the supply side (i.e., creating more black enterprises), and we certainly need that, what I’m trying to do is focus on the demand side (i.e., creating more demand for black businesses), and that requires a paradigm shift from consumers, corporations, institutions, and governments. Research indicates that the level of antiblack bias in America generally ranges from high to very high, and that bias affects just about every facet of our lives, including commerce, and this is a significant hindrance to business development and job creation.
CBM: How do you get people to buy within their own community?
Rochester: If you look at the historical narrative, black people in America have not had the opportunity to create a critical mass of thriving economic enclaves because we were subjected to a particularly brutal and effective form of economic segregation. This impoverished large swaths of the black population. And, in general, when customers are economically deprived, it’s hard for businesses to thrive, and the costs are much higher. This led to a lower concentration of high levels of business success and caused many people to associate lower quality levels with black businesses, which fueled a bias against black enterprise.
Part of what I want to do is shake that kind of biased thinking and behavior by creating a positive association between commercializing black enterprise and facilitating job creation in the black community. The idea is to stimulate the demand for our products and services and provide the capital to finance the resulting growth. This also applies to the black community, since our spending levels on black enterprise are very low. For example, while the purchasing power of the black community is about $1.2 trillion and supports about 24 million jobs in the US economy, less than 2 percent of that spend is on black businesses, and the vast majority of those jobs are outside of the black community. This—coupled with the fact that the vast majority of the companies who are recipients of black consumer spending (and thousands more who are not) do not practice PHD—further depresses job creation and business development in the black community. At the end of the day, a material shift away from the current 2 percent levels will have a massive economic impact by creating more jobs, businesses, and wealth in the black community.Post Views: 1,063