Powerful Black Business Owners Push Black Economic Agenda
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

Heavyweights from the world of black business, politics, and corporate America are teaming up to make sure blacks in America get a piece of the economic pie.

Black Economic Alliance, a political action group made up of black business and civic leaders that launched last month, announced today the advisory board that will direct the group’s efforts for this year’s mid-term elections and beyond.

“The promise of America is that regardless of where you’re from or the challenges you were born into, if you work hard you can achieve your dreams. But far too many people in the black community continue to be disproportionately disadvantaged by economic policies that don’t take into account our unique needs and potential,” says Essence magazine co-founder Ed Lewis.

“By shining a light on these issues and elevating elected leaders who are committed to making change, we can build a different, better future for black Americans for generations to come.”

The 22 members of the inaugural, non-partisan advisory board are:

  • Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor, Morgan Stanley
  • Caretha Coleman, a Silicon Valley trailblazer who formerly consulted for early-stage ventures
  • Ed Lewis, co-founder of Essence magazine
  • Chris Lyons, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, who manages its Cultural Leadership Fund
  • Dick Parsons, the former chairman and CEO of Time Warner who was just named interim chairman of CBS
  • Sheila Marcelo, the Filipino-American founder, chairman and CEO of Care.com
  • Troy Carter, co-founder and managing partner of Cross Culture Ventures, who just stepped down from his daily role at Spotify
  • Morgan DeBaun, co-founder and CEO of Blavity
  • Kneeland Youngblood, co-founder of private equity firm Pharos Capital Group L.L.C., a former BE 100s company
  • Bennie Wiley, a talent management consultant and the former president and CEO of The Partnership Inc.
  • Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee
  • Ron Kirk, former mayor of Dallas and U.S. Trade Representative under President Barack Obama
  • Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of Michigan
  • Susan Rice, former National Security Advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Steve Schmidt, Republican communications and public affairs strategist
  • William Cohen, Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton
  • Robert E. Rubin, Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton
  • Bakari Sellers, former South Carolina legislator and political analyst
  • Carol Sutton Lewis, attorney; Founder, Ground Control Parenting
  • Robert Raben, Democratic strategist
  • Heather McGhee, former president of progressive think tank Demos
  • Spencer Overton, policy expert

“Hardworking Americans power our economy, but they need the opportunity to learn 21st-century economy skills to keep up with the rapidly changing world that we live in,” said Harris in a statement. “I’m pleased to work with the Black Economic Alliance to promote policies that will help develop our workforce, ensure that each American can contribute to and benefit from the economy, and create meaningful change that helps black families access the opportunities they deserve.”

The mission of the Black Economic Alliance, according to its website, is threefold:

  1. Advance an economic policy agenda focused on improving economic outcomes in three core areas: work, wages, and wealth
  2. Support candidates for office who are aligned with that agenda by providing endorsements and funding key elections
  3. Hold government officials across the political spectrum accountable to that agenda

“As treasury secretary, I saw firsthand the direct impact that smart policy can have on people’s lives,” Rubin said in a statement, “and I know if we have an economy that works for everyone, including our black communities, America will thrive.”

“We need to address the issues which hold both black families and our broader economy back,” Rubin continued. “Policies like increased funding for vocational and technical training, eliminating pay discrimination, and increasing access to loans for small businesses will help every American to have the opportunity to pursue the American Dream.”

The Alliance has already raised millions and endorsed 14 candidates running for Congress or governor who will “be champions for advancing progress in the economic sphere in the black community,” according to Executive Director Akunna Cook.

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Alisa Gumbs

Alisa Gumbs is the executive managing editor of BLACK ENTERPRISE, planning and executing content across the company's print, digital, events, and broadcast platforms, and writing features when she finds a story she's passionate about--including the November 2011, December 2010, and September 2006 cover stories.


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