"If somebody else was not writing the check, we could not even eat" Dr. George Fraser
Once upon a time in America, black people owned things. Black people owned businesses, tens of thousands of businesses. They even owned their own homes. Between 1888 and 1934, 134 black-owned banks were established, They lent money to people from their own community so they could build businesses there. From 1867 through 1917, the number of black businesses increased from 4,000 to 50,000. Black business owners became wealthy and successful and gave jobs to people from their own community and taught them how to work together to create more wealth. Outsiders called it “Black Wallstreet”.
It was hard to find a liquor store or a gun store in the community in those days. Hard for some to believe but In those days black people owned manufacturing companies, banks, hotels, restaurants, movie theatres, shopping centers, boutiques, gas stations, supermarkets, hospitals, bus & trolley car companies, auto dealerships, airplanes. They even built large baseball coliseums for Sunday games. They owed film production companies and sports teams. They even ran their local colleges and universities.
All of the businesses bought from each other and all the people bought from those businesses and they all kept their money in their own black-owned community banks. Thousands of other black people were doctors, lawyers, engineers, community leaders. They all bought the things they needed from one another and black wealth grew and grew. At that time, black unemployment was lower than white unemployment. Everybody who wanted a job had a job and the people were very happy because they could take care of their families. Black businesses owners were so happy and successful they even helped other people who were not part of their community. But then something happened. When segregation was ended, the result was, black people in their euphoria and satisfaction with the fact that the white majority community establishment was now being forced by law to serve them, transferred their money out of black owned banks, stopped shopping at black owned businesses, stopped seeking employment with black owned companies, stopped using black professional services and instead transferred their funds into white banks, shopped at white businesses and sought to be employed by a big white company and sought out white professional services. Black people sowed their own economic demise by transferring their wealth out of the black community and into the white community.
The white business community soon realized that the black dollar was huge and was all too happy to take their money but not to hire them in significant numbers. Thus black unemployment sky rocketed and the black economic infrastructure withered on the vine and all but vanished. White corporations chose to hire mostly “the talented tenth” from among those blacks with college degrees to facilitate the bringing in of more dollars from the black community by appealing to black consumers who looked upon these blacks in white corporate America with pride and mistakenly suffered from the illusion that this success of a relatively few individuals represented group success. Individual success never translated into group success. So the black community’s potential economic business leaders left and gave their talent to the white corporate establishment. Some sadly even developed the mistaken attitude of: “If I can do it, then so can you”. They thus no longer felt any responsibility to reach out to help their own community. They bought into the lie of “rugged individualism” as the sole and only path to success.
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