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August is a time to celebrate, acknowledge, and support Black-owned businesses in the United States. John William Templeton, president and executive editor of the scholarly publishing company, eAccess Corp, and engineering executive, Frederick E. Jordan, initiated National Black Business Month in 2004.
Both Templeton and Jordan shared a passion for Black-owned businesses and understood how important they are to economic growth. Jordan was unable to obtain financing for his San Francisco-based engineering and construction management company in 1969; Templeton was an editor of the oldest Black newspaper in America.
Now Jordan owns F.E. Jordan Associates, Inc. — incorporated in 1974 —and has been in business for 35 years and has over 1,000 completed projects, including resurfacing former President Obama’s street in Chicago’s Hyde Park community, and some internationally.
The golden age of Black business refers to the era from 1900 to 1930 where “leading black capitalists . . . reflected their success within a black economy, which developed in response to the nation’s rise of two worlds of race,” according to business historian Juliet E. K. Walker. During this time period, those who attended Harvard Business School went on to have successful Black businesses.
For example, Norris B. Henderson played a pivotal role in his family’s insurance company in Atlanta — it is now one of the largest Black-owned businesses in Georgia. An influential professor at Howard University, H. Naylor Fitzhugh, assumed a role in a senior executive position at the Pepsi–Cola Company.
Black business owners have faced disproportionately uphill battles courtesy of systemic racism and generations upon generations of prejudice and ignorance. Supporting Black-owned entrepreneurship is one simple way to knit everyone together.
In 1900, The National Negro Business League (NNBL) — renamed the National Business League in 1966 — was founded by Booker T. Washington in Boston, Massachusetts. A year later the NNBL was formally incorporated in New York with hundreds of chapters established across the U.S. By 1915, with the help of The National Negro Business League, there was widespread support for African-American entrepreneurship spreading to over 34 states.
By the time 2002 rolled around 1.2 million out of 23 million businesses across America were Black-owned. Those 1.2 million businesses brought in over $150 billion in revenue.
A few Black-owned businesses in Chicago are:
- 360 Mind Body Soul — located in South Loop.
- Semicolon Bookstore — located in Wicker Park.
- The Silver Room — is located in Hyde Park.
- MacArthur’s Restaurant — is located in Austin.
- Luella’s Southern Kitchen — is located in Lincoln Square.
- Funkytown Brewery — is located in Logan Square.
- Sweet Maple Chicago — is located on the Near West Side.
- Pupstars — is located on the Near West Side.
“Black Business Month is exciting because it gives us an opportunity to focus on a community that is far too often underrepresented when it comes to access to capital and opportunities to build wealth,” said Denise Moore, CEO of the Black Business Alliance in Peoria, Illinois.
Celebrating Black entrepreneurs and business owners pays homage to them and their legacy. The month of August is dedicated to recognizing the importance of Black-owned businesses when it comes to contributing to the United States economy.
Black business owners account for roughly 10% of United States businesses and around 30% of all minority-owned companies in the U.S. are Black-owned, according to the National Day Calendar.
The primary sectors of African American businesses are in the fields of social work, repair, maintenance, restaurants, beauty salons, and more. All across America, Black businesses are booming and on the rise. Currently, Washington D.C. has the highest ratio of Black-owned businesses at 28%.
Help local Black-owned businesses in the neighborhood by utilizing their products or skills.
Written by Sheena Robertson
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