Celebrating Black Business

Frederick E. Jordan and John William Templeton crusade to raise awareness with a month of recognition in August

Jordan and Templeton reason that dedicating a month to black business best draws attention to their cause. They chose August after their research revealed it was the month in which most black family and social events occur. They also believe that increasing elected officials’ awareness of black business, at least one month a year, may help to yield economic policies that would be more favorable to African American entrepreneurs.

From the outset, recognition of National Black Business Month has been inconsistent, and it is still a work in progress. To help gauge its effectiveness, Templeton is creating a database of venture capital raised as a direct result of coordinated National Black Business Month programs.

Last year, 20 states—among them Maryland, Michigan, and Florida—recognized the month in some form, says Templeton. Jordan and Templeton initially sought state proclamations as a way of promoting the month. Requirements for securing a proclamation vary by state but generally involve writing a detailed letter to the governor and waiting weeks, if not months, for a response.

The two have been most successful in getting community libraries to observe the month. Nationally, librarians have committed to posting on bulletin boards resources for entrepreneurs and information that celebrates black-owned businesses. Now in its sixth year, National Black Business Month is recognized in more than 300 libraries across the country, Templeton says. In addition, many local chambers of commerce observe the month.

While organizing National Black Business Month, Jordan and Templeton were sensitive not to overshadow the work of Los Angeles activist Muhammad A. Nassardeen, who had set aside April as a local Black Business Month. Nassardeen, who died in October 2007, founded Recycling Black Dollars, an organization that promotes black business.

One underlying goal of Jordan and Templeton’s efforts is to generate collective awareness and support similar to that of the Civil Rights Movement. “We need a resurgence of some of the tactics used in the 1960s,” Jordan says.

Templeton acknowledges the problems that some African American consumers encounter with black-owned businesses. But he also points out that, too often, black patrons allow these businesses only a narrow margin of error. Also, when a consumer receives poor service at one black-owned business, it tends to cast a long shadow. “I try to impress upon people that even if you get lackluster service, it is in your best interest to find a way to do business with a black-owned company,” Templeton says. Jordan notes

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