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Black Leaders – Past And Present – On Black Economic Empowerment


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AFRICANGLOBE – It is absolutely critical that we, as Black folks, get serious in 2014 about maximizing our economic potential in this country. We often swear that we revere the guidance of illustrious ancestors and present day wise persons who strive to give us direction on how to best promote and protect our individual and group interests in a society that is at best a lukewarm environment for us. The following observations from men and women who were/are committed to our empowerment must become guidelines for action in 2014 and beyond:

Carter G. Woodson-Educator/Historian/ Activist
“In the schools of business administration Negroes are trained excessively in the psychology and economics of Wall Street and are, therefore, made to despise the opportunities to run ice wagons, push banana carts, and sell peanuts among their own people. Foreigners, who have not studied economics, but have studied Negroes, take up this business and grow rich.”

Mary McLeod Bethune-Educator/ Activist
“I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another. This kind of confidence will aid the economic rise of the race by bringing together the pennies and dollars of our people and ploughing them into useful channels.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.-Leader/ Activist
“….Black Power is also a call for the pooling of Black financial resources to achieve economic security. While the ultimate answer to the Negroes’ economic dilemma will be found in a massive federal program for all the poor along the lines of A. Philip Randolph’s Freedom Budget, a kind of Marshall Plan for the disadvantaged, there is something that the Negro himself can do to throw off the shackles of poverty.

Although the Negro is still at the bottom of the economic ladder, his collective annual income is upward $30 billion. This gives him a considerable buying power that can make the difference between profit and loss in many business. Through the pooling of such resources and the development of habits of thrift and techniques of wise investment, the Negro will be doing his share to grapple with his problem of economic deprivation. If Black Power means the development of this kind of strength within the Negro community, then it is a quest for basic, necessary, legitimate power.”

Marcus Garvey-Leader/ Activist
“The most important area for the exercise of independent effort is economic. After a people have established successfully a firm industrial foundation they naturally turn to politics and society, but not first to society and politics, because the two latter cannot exist without the former.”

Rev. Earl Trent-Pastor/Activist
“An economic agenda is the central agenda of all politics, for it determines who gets a slice of the pie, who gets the crumbs and who gets nothing. The new agenda for Black America must consciously replace the social agenda with an economic agenda whose central focus is how we can improve the state of the Black economy.”

In response to the guidance offered by these wise leaders every Black church, civic organization, fraternity, sorority, school, college etc. should host workshops focusing on achieving economic empowerment. Otherwise most of us will continue to be the kind of person/people who, to paraphrase legendary educator, Dr. Kelly Miller, pay for what we want and beg for what we need.


By: Peter A Bailey

Journalist/ Lecturer A. Peter Bailey is the author of the recently published book, Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, The Master Teacher.


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