survey, 84.3% of the respondents believed influential and affluent African Americans do not give back to their communities or uplift the less fortunate. Correcting this trend starts at home. Children need parents to teach them the value of education, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and homeownership as well as pride in our culture and legacy. Entrepreneurs such as the neighborhood shop owner should present themselves as leaders that community residents — especially children — can respect and go to for guidance.
Margaret Simms, a member of the BE Board of Economists and vice president of governance and economic analysis for The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, found that the average person is unlikely to join or volunteer in large organizations such as the NAACP or National Urban League. Yet, there are other ways to take small, but powerful, steps. Starting a neighborhood mentoring program, tutoring at an after-school program, or inviting kids to intern at your business can have a significant impact on someone’s life. If you have expertise in a certain field, volunteer your services to a nonprofit organization that can benefit from your guidance.
Too often business owners aren’t willing to take on the issues that affect them most. Instead of complaining about a rigid ordinance or that taxes are too punitive, run for political office to change local regulations or lobby public officials.
The late Maynard Jackson is an example of outside-of-the-box leadership. The three-term mayor of Atlanta ensured that black-owned businesses received a fair share of municipal contracts. In turn, he helped circulate more money in black communities and increased African American employment.
Not all of us have Jackson’s larger-than-life persona. But that shouldn’t deter us from becoming an effective leader. Remember, some of history’s most successful leaders have been the most humble servants. That’s another thing I became certain of in grade school — one person can make a difference in the world. That person can be you. — Nicole Marie Richardson
OUR READERS RESPOND: Do you think African Americans need new black leadership?
- Yes: 69.1%
- No: 30.9%
Who should that leader be? Top 5 responses
- Barack Obama
- Tavis Smiley
- Colin Powell
- Louis Farrakhan
- Kweisi Mfume
I’ve seen America’s public education system firsthand: I am a product of it.
I attended a segregated elementary school in Louisville, Kentucky, during the 1960s, and a desegregated middle school in the early 1970s. But when it was my children’s turn to get an education, I opted out of sending them through the public school system in favor of a private institution. Like 68.4% of our readers polled on blackenterprise.com, I believe that today’s public education is failing African American children. Public education has yet to deliver on the 50-year-old promise to offer African American students an education equal to that of their white counterparts as spelled out in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.
If public school did not have the concerns that plague many parents, my wife and I would send our children to public school in a heartbeat. In fact, we would prefer that our children attend public school due