Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Girl Overcomes A Hard Childhood To Become A Ballerina

Michaela DePrince ended up in an orphanage in Sierra Leone after her parents died. In this orphanage you were ranked from 1 - 27 depending on how much they liked you with 1 being the best and 27 being the worst. Because of her skin condition she was ranked 27 and constantly called a devil child. One day she saw a picture of a ballerina without knowing what it was. It was that day that she decided that is what she would strive to be. Check out the video to hear her whole story.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Trust Your Journey: Raelia Lewis


Trust Your Journey is an ode to dreamers. This book is an inspirational story that encourages readers to believe. It includes visionary exercises, and real life experiences that strengthen the mind, change perspectives, and promote positive thinking. All things are possible if you believe that they are!


Friday, July 22, 2016

Why Banking Black Is Good For The Black Community

By Robert Stitt

In 1865, the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company was created by Congress to help Black men and women after the end of the Civil War. Despite the efforts of such notable benefactors as Fredrick Douglas, the bank would close in 1874, taking with it much of the $57 million that over 100,000 African Americans had deposited. While there was mismanagement, and a number of bad investments took place, the bank’s demise was mostly due to bad luck. After all, the first major U.S. depression started when the Panic of 1873 led to financial devastation throughout the country.

While the Freedman’s Bank may have gone under, the FDIC notes that “there were over 130 African-American owned banks between 1888 and 1934.” Today, there are just 22.

OneUnited Bank is the largest Black-owned bank in America. The CEO of One United is Teri Williams. She notes, “Part of what we realized is there were a lot of Black banks with a great mission, but they didn’t have the economies of scale to invest in new technology.” Yet, she told the Atlanta Black Star that it was not just Black banks that had problems keeping up with the technology, increased federal regulation, and compliance. “There has been a decline in banks in general. There also has been a decline in community banks that were the size of a lot of the Black banks that went out of business.”

Not all Black banks went under, however. OneUnited saw the struggle of several smaller Black banks and rescued them. “We acquired four banks and combined them into one,” Williams explained.

The struggle of minority banks goes beyond issues with technology and the government, though. The biggest problem is public perception. Even though many big banks just went through very rough times and had to be bailed out by the federal government, people still trust them more. “If you ask the Black community, ‘Where do you put your dollars?’ most will say they put it in the larger banks,” Williams says, adding, “It is difficult for black banks to attract dollars from their own community.”

According to Williams, the key to bettering the situation is to improve knowledge in the Black community about the role of the bank. She feels that most Blacks do not understand that the primary purpose of a bank is to recycle money. “What that means is people place deposits into the bank, and the role of the bank is to take those funds to the community, to build wealth or for buying a home. That, in turn, results in additional deposits that go into the bank, and the recycling goes on.”

Instead of investing in their own community, however, Blacks put their dollars in banks that invest outside of the Black community. Maggie Anderson once noted during her TED talk, “In the African-American community, our dollars leave the community in 6 hours.” She accented the tragedy of those numbers by explaining, “If black people were to increase spending within our own community from 2 percent to 10 percent, we would create 1 million new jobs.”

Williams says there is no reason not to invest in a Black bank. Speaking of OneUnited, she states, “Our rates are higher, our fees are lower, and we have 25,000 ATMs where you can get your money for free. So, in fact, we have better services than national banks, and we have more services that are targeted to meet the needs of our community than national banks.”


List of African American Banks

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Meet Dr. Ayanna Howard: Roboticist, AI Scientist, and Old School #Blerd

It’s not every day you meet a sister who not only builds robots, is an expert in Artificial Intelligence, and worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, but is also a down-to-earth, humorous, old-school Blerd (Black nerd) who was inspired by The Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, and all things Sci-Fi as a little girl.

Today, Dr. Ayanna Howard is a respected roboticist and a Motorola Foundation Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech’s Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines.

[Related: Diversifying Google: Meet Three Black Google Engineers]

She received her B.S. in Engineering from Brown University, her M.S.E.E. from the University of Southern California, and her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California. Her area of research focuses on humanized intelligence (what we informally call “Artificial Intelligence”). She is renowned for creating robots for studying the impact of global warming on the Antarctic ice shelves.

At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, she led research on various robotics projects and was a senior robotics researcher, eventually earning NASA’s Honor Award for Safe Robotic Navigation Task, among many other distinguished science awards and honors. interviewed Dr. Howard about her early days, about Artificial Intelligence, and her thoughts on diversity and inclusion in STEM. How did you find your way into robotics and AI/humanized intelligence research?
Dr. Howard: Robotics has been something I wanted to do since middle school. I was a Sci-Fi nut. I loved the original Star Trek. The Next Generation was okay, but nothing like Kirk.

I remember watching. I wanted to do something in Sci-Fi. Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman … I was totally fascinated. I wanted to be The Bionic Woman, which of course, is not a career.

I started working at JPL (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab) after my freshman year in college. That’s when I became involved in programming. I was never classically trained as a computer scientist. I had to learn db4 and Pascal. JPL — they do robotics. So, I paired up with a group focused on AI. When I started grad school I had to figure out if I could use what I was doing at JPL with what I was doing at grad school.

It’s one of those fields where you simply don’t see many, if any, women of color. Do you feel like an anomaly, and if so, how do you deal with that? Or is it something you don’t really think about?
It would affect me — when you go into a room and there is no one in there that remotely looks like you. It does affect you when you are younger; when you get questions from others, “Are you supposed to be here?”

You think, “Maybe there is a reason why I am the only one.” You need people to say, “Yeah, you can do it!”

My mom always called me stubborn. You told me I couldn’t do it is best way for me to try and figure out how. I wanted to do a Ph.D., I was challenged.

Can you talk about robotics without talking about AI? Are the two independent areas of research?
You can talk about AI outside the domain of robotics because intelligence and learning can be applied to computers; one that learns how you type, for example. It’s a learning system, not a robotics system.

At a CES 2016 panel on AI, there was a discussion that AI is moving away from “science project” territory and becoming something with more practical, real-world application? Do you agree?
I do. Although, I don’t think people realize it. For example, if you use your phone and you use Siri and you are always asking for a new Thai restaurant in Atlanta, eventually it learns, “This person is not interested in Chinese or Soul food.” We don’t even think about it — it learns as you use it. If you go to Google and you search on different machines you get different results.

There was also the discussion that the use of the term “artificial” is outdated and not quite accurate … that there needs to be a new way to think about AI. Your thoughts on that?
I never use the term “AI.” I use the term “humanized intelligence.” The whole aspect of intelligence is that learning is done in the context of people. It’s our environment. We are using these systems to enhance our quality of life. We would not be happy with an artificial system that does stuff that might be optimal but not in the way we do things.

What do you see as the difference between business uses of AI versus consumer uses?
I see at least in the startup space, a lot of the companies getting investments are in the data-mining space. Look at Netflix — that’s enterprise learning people’s preferences — [to] deliver ideal content. Machines really help out our own quality of life, on the consumer side. For me, it’s my own personal preference — individuals listen to one song [for example] and then with preferences, the next time [you sign-in] you get better [selections].

It’s almost kind of scary … once you use these learning apps they are pretty good at “getting it” in a short time. Algorithms are getting better, and of course there is more data.

Steven Hawking, Bill Gates, and other tech leaders wrote a letter about the danger of AI after the military announced it was funding research to develop these autonomous, self-aware robot soldiers. Hawking wrote,“humans, limited by slow biological evolution,” couldn’t compete and would be superseded by AI and that AI could be more dangerous than nuclear weapons. What are your thoughts on this?
I am on the other side of the camp. [AI] is no more dangerous than any other kind of tech. If I give you anything, there is a good and a bad; by nature we have good people and bad people. You can’t stop that.

The problem is if you say ‘no,’ the good people cannot work on it. All you have in society are those who are not following the rules — just creating the bad. So then, we are destined to go down the path we don’t want to go down. We can create tech that is good and has social impact.

What will AI be like in 20 years?
I do predict that it will just be “programs” not called “intelligence.” I see learning intelligence algorithms integrated in any tech you can think of; appliances, cars, phones, to our education system. And I also see it integrated into hardware; into robotics, trains — physical things … as well as [continued integration] into smart homes.

Finally, do you see, especially as a professor, progress in the numbers of minorities in STEM studies or careers?
I do, but [there’s] a caveat. It’s better — and although I see an increase in the number of females and minorities, it still doesn’t reflect the demographics, there is still that gap. Is it widening if you include the world’s demographics? Yes, that gap might be widening, but if I look at year-to-year increase, it’s better.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Being F1's first black driver is important


When I first started in Formula 1, I tried to ignore the fact I was the first black guy ever to race in the sport.

But, as I've got older, I've really started to appreciate the implications. It's a pretty cool feeling to be the person to knock down a barrier - just like the Williams sisters did in tennis or Tiger Woods in golf.

I get kids from all different cultures and nationalities coming up to me now, all wanting to be F1 drivers. They feel the sport is open to everyone. That's why it was so great to do the Top Gear festival in Barbados last weekend.

I had so much fun, although being there meant so much more to me than having a good time. My immediate family are from the West Indies - from Trinidad and Grenada - and I have relatives all over the Caribbean.

I am the only representative of that part of the world to drive in F1, so when Top Gear told me about the event I immediately said: "I'd love to do it." It was really cool to go there and it was so busy. Thousands turned up. I heard people flew in from Jamaica and Trinidad just to see me. It was weird. It was almost like it was my event.

In fact, Jeremy Clarkson said to the crowd at one point that "15% of the people are here to see Top Gear and 85% to see Lewis". It was unbelievable, really one of the best weekends I've ever had... the feeling, the energy I got. The fans were so excited - the most excited I have ever seen in my life. I don't think they have ever seen anything like that before, never heard an F1 car anyway, so it was surreal to be the person to bring that to them and represent F1.

 Cricket and football are the biggest sports in the Caribbean, but I've noticed that F1 is increasing in popularity. The event was just a blast. I drove a Mercedes F1 car and 'raced' against rally stunt driver Ken Block. We did 'doughnuts' and everything. I've been wanting to do something like that with Ken for a while and hope we'll be able to do something similar in the future.

A reality check While Barbados and a lot of other places in the Caribbean are beautiful, they're not wealthy. My auntie, for example, lives in Grenada in a shack that is no more than 15ft square. That's how my dad's dad lived before he came to England. I went to Barbados after visiting Haiti as part of my work as a Unicef ambassador. Every year, I'm trying to do more with charities. I've been working with Unicef for a couple of years now and I signed up with Save the Children in 2013. Haiti is a beautiful place in many respects, but poverty is a real problem.

 A lot of money was raised for Haiti after the terrible earthquake in 2010 and things got a bit better there for a while, but conditions have started to deteriorate again and the child mortality rate has begun to increase. No-one should have to live in the conditions that I saw some kids in there. They were malnourished, not eating. We've all seen pictures of children with flies on their faces, sad and hungry, but television simply does not do justice to the tragedy of it.

When you see a two-year-old kid who doesn't have the energy to move, it's devastating. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it now. I want to bring as much attention to that sort of thing as I can and the film I made there will be shown as part of Sport Aid on 8 June. The next stage in a long battle It's Monaco this weekend, a race I always look forward to. I love street tracks and this is one of my favourites, although my feelings about it have changed over the years.

My win here in 2008 was one of the most significant events of my career, but this is my eighth year in F1 now and I've come to realise that there are so many other great races. Now Monaco is my home, the race is still special but it's different. The first few times I came here, I wanted to emulate Ayrton Senna and win, drive through the tunnel and around all those iconic corners. I lived the dream - and still am living the dream - but the rose-tinted spectacles I once had have gone.

 Maybe it's like a relationship... there is the honeymoon period, then it settles down into normality. It's still great, but it moves to a different level. I will still get a buzz every time I climb into the car this weekend - and I still want to be on the top of that podium on Sunday - but, more than anything, I hope it's a good battle. Those first two years I was in F1, Monaco was great, fighting with McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso in 2007 and then the Ferraris in 2008. Since then, very few races here have been a proper battle between teams vying for victory.

Whoever has the superior car has won. For me, that has taken the passion away a little bit. Competition is what I live for. That's why I never play mind games. Of course, sometimes you say things without realising the implications, but I want to win on the track through pure ability. It's the way I was raised. I certainly don't want to handicap a rival before a race. I want him to be at his best. Then, when I beat him, that's bigger than any psychological ploy.

 I was talking to BBC Sport's Andrew Benson


Monday, May 9, 2016

The First African-American Piano Manufacturer

At the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in February, one couldn't help but notice the striking new grand piano on the main stage, emblazoned with the name SHADD. When the many accomplished pianists that wee­­kend sat down to strike those keys, it was equally easy to spot their delight in the instrument.

That piano was the product of a trailblazer in his field. The Shadd in question is jazz drummer Warren Shadd, the first African-American piano manufacturer. That makes him the first large-scale commercial African-American instrument manufacturer, period.

For Shadd, piano making is part of his birthright. His grandparents were musicians: His grandmother was a ragtime pianist in the South in the '30s, and his grandfather invented (and performed on) a collapsible drum set. (He never patented it, a lesson his grandson learned.) Shadd's father was himself a piano technician, restorer, builder and performer — as well as a trombonist. And Shadd's aunt was the NEA Jazz Master pianist and vocalist Shirley Horn. A child prodigy, young Warren made his own concert debut at age 4.

Shadd Pianos are now in churches and concert venues across the U.S. — including the set of American Idol, where house keyboardist Wayne Linsey will play it on Wednesday night's episode. On a recent visit to Warren Shadd's home in a suburb of Washington, D.C. — a home that doubles as the Shadd Piano showroom — he spoke about his life and work.

Willard Jenkins: What sparked your original interest in pianos?

Warren Shadd: My father was the exclusive piano technician for the Howard Theatre, so I would go down there with him four times a week and see James Brown, Count Basie, [Duke] Ellington, Pearl Bailey, Peggy Lee, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers ... rehearsing. I'd see this all day long, every day. From the time I woke up, there were band rehearsals. Shirley Horn rehearsing in my basement with Billy Hart and Marshall Hawkins ... We had pianos everywhere in my house, from the garage to the basement, sometimes even one of the upright pianos sitting in the kitchen, [Laughs.] And musicians would come over to our house after the gig and play all night: Dude Brown, Bernard Sweetney, Steve Novosel, Roberta Flack ...

My father would have me do little repairs on the piano. When he went on these piano [repair] jobs, he would take me with him to see what the whole thing was about ... and I would never want to go. I just wanted to stay home and play the drums; just wanted to be Warren Shadd the drummer. Except when he said he was going to the Howard Theatre — I was in the car before he got there! I wanted to see all these cats rehearse, see the show ... I met Grady Tate when I was about 6 years old, playing with Jimmy Smith, then went full circle and played with Jimmy Smith myself.

Warren Shadd at age 13.
Warren Shadd at age 13.
Courtesy of Warren Shadd
As I progressed and learned more about piano technology, I never aspired to; I just knew how to do it. I would say, 'Piano is what I know, drums is who I am.' As I went out there and toured with different acts, did a bunch of Broadway shows and got a little tired of the road, I learned how to tune, rebuild and restore pianos. I would take these pianos down to the nuts and bolts and build them back up just for fun, just for a hobby. I would take whole grand or upright pianos apart, build them back up with everything refinished — new strings, new soundboard, new keys, new ivories — for fun. And then my father would sell the piano. [Laughs.] I was about 12, 13 when I started doing this.

The record player was always going, from Sonny Stitt's Low Flame album, to Count Basie, to Buddy Rich, to Miles, to Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, the James Gang, Iron Butterfly — I had a real potpourri and understanding of all genres of music. While I was doing this piano thing just for the heck of it, I was also performing with a bunch of folks. After I got through high school, I went to Howard University and was in the big band with Wallace Roney, Geri Allen, Gary Thomas, Noble Jolley Sr., Carroll Dashiell and Paul Carr.

When my father passed in 1993, I took over the piano business full tilt, because he had all of these clients for tuning, rebuilding and restoring. He pretty much had Washington, D.C., totally sewn up with all the church pianos. So when I took it over, I already had a client base — it wasn't like I had to start over fresh. We had all these contracts with churches. Coming in as the second generation of this business was phenomenal for me. Secure from being a musician on tour, it was a built-in job.

As the industry changed a bit, I found that rebuilding pianos was not so much what I really wanted to do financially. I would take these pianos and beautifully restore them ... and somebody would say 'OK, I'll give you $600 for it...' [Laughs.] I'm like, 'Dude, even the new strings I put on this cost four times that much!' So I kind of migrated out of that restoration business into doing tunings and repair work.

I would also exchange parts. I'd take a soundboard out of a Steinway and put it in a Baldwin to see what kind of reaction it would give, understanding the engineering, understanding which side vibrates the most. I'd exchange strings, put on heavier strings, lighter strings, to achieve a certain type of sound. Being a musician, I have an advantage of understanding what musicians want and what they want to hear. If I can compare here — Mr. Steinway doesn't play piano, Yamaha no, Kawai no, Bosendorfer no, Fazioli a little bit ... They are engineers and businessmen; I'm a musician and an engineer and businessman. I have somewhat of a musical advantage. What I'm crafting is a musical instrument and all those different components that go into that, especially the musical parts.

At what point did you decide to actually manufacture pianos?

From churches and especially symphonic tunings, you understood that the piano had a disadvantage in terms of the pianists especially being able to hear themselves play, because in church you're in total competition with the Hammond B-3 organ or the pipe organ, the drums, the bass, the percussion, the choir and the congregation. They would put microphones in the piano, but they weren't placed right to give you the most opulent sound of the piano. You would have to totally jack up that sound for the pianist to feel really comfortable. In the symphony, there'd be a floor monitor, but you're totally surrounded by all these string instruments and you're still at a disadvantage ... and you just play the part.

My first notion was enhancing the volume of the acoustic piano by itself, without any kind of electronics. Even if you add electronics, you'll have more sound, because the origin of the piano will have more sound, more volume to it without distorting it — which is important, too. There's a piano on the market that is somewhat loud, but as you play it louder, it has distortion. The soundboard is not made so well that it can take that kind of pounding. My pianos: You can stand on them and you will not get any kind of distortion.

I studied and researched in the library and wrote a dissertation. I went back to some of those old pianos I restored, and I would experiment with the soundboard. I wrote this stuff on sheets of notebook paper and just put it away, didn't really think that much about it. One day, I was tuning a piano at this old man Mr. Tucker's house. As I'm tuning his old upright piano, he started whimpering. I said 'Mr. Tucker, what's going on?' He said, 'It's all right, Shadd, it's all right.' So I go on tuning the piano, then he really starts crying a lot. 'What's wrong, Mr. Tucker?' He said, 'Shadd, see that piano? See that name on the front of it? That should say Shadd, because you're the only one!' I said, 'OK, Mr. Tucker, I've got these ideas, I'm gonna go back and study.' He pretty much planted the seed.

I went back and blew the dust off of these old ideas that had been sitting in a cabinet, and I started trying to engage some of these parts and put some of these old ideas I had together. And then I said, 'Why not try to do some of this stuff electronically?' So I built this prototype piano. It took me two summers and there it is [pointing to a high-tech grand piano in the adjoining room]. I put an audio system in the piano where speakers are right in front of the piano, so the sound would come right to the pianist and the pianist can hear themselves play. And I put speakers under the piano and a subwoofer so you can get the full gamut of the piano and control the volume and graphic equalize each section of the piano — bass, alto, tenor and treble — so you could go to each section of the piano and customize it just like that. I went another step and made it MIDI, so you could play all of your electronic synthesizer sounds on the piano.

For educational purposes, I made this piano interactive. I put a computer under the piano and I built this 24" touchscreen on the front and a 13" screen on the left and encompassed video cams throughout the piano. So on the other side, interactively, your piano teacher can see you, you can see your piano teacher, they can see our face, torso, left hand, right hand, pedal movement, and teach intelligently anywhere in the world ... distance learning right there at the piano.

From that point, you can also have your band on the other screen, so you can even cut tracks with your band live and in real time. You can teach and you can score on your touchscreen as you're watching that, so it's like a total workshop right in front of the piano. Now you can compete in a church environment, in a symphonic environment, because now you have the volume right in your face. But even taking it to another level ... I have a [piano] bench that has surround sound; it has a subwoofer in it. So now, you don't only just hear the music; you feel the music, so that every little nuance that you play on the piano down to the triple pianissimo ... you feel everything that you're playing.

From there, I said, 'Let me go back to the acoustic piano and see how I can apply some of that stuff to these new pianos.' So I incorporated a lot of the soundboard technology that I invented — and I have patents on all of this technology, unlike my grandfather with the collapsible drum set. I assembled an A team of piano manufacturers around the world and sort of cherry-picked the best of the best. I said I want you to make this ... in accordance to my patents and designs.

My first piano, I sold to the Setai Hotel in New York, now called the Langham Place Hotel, and they play jazz there on this piano — seven days a week. I was trying to get a particular piano company to build my pianos. When I called, they said, 'We'll build your pianos if you bring us 1,000 signatures of people who would buy your pianos.' A friend of mine suggested going to the Gospel Workshop of America, the big convention of all the ministers of music and trustees. It happens annually, and I'm thinking at that time all I had was paperwork: I had a provisional patent, but no prototype piano.

How am I going to go there without a piano? Hammond Organ, Yamaha are going to be there, and they're going to have instruments. So I'm just going to be there selling a piano without a piano? I had these big posters made to put on easels and put all this stuff into an SUV and traveled up to Detroit. I bought a corner booth because people were going to be coming to you on both sides as opposed to being in the middle of a straight line in the exhibit hall. I had these banners made that said, 'First African-American piano manufacturer.' I made a video of all the proposed technology. But I still didn't have a piano. [Laughs.]

I've got a lot of family in Detroit, so I got a couple cousins with clipboards to stand outside of my booth to get these signatures — the name of their church, their minister of music's name, what kind of piano they had in their church, how many pianos would they replace if they were able, and how many would they replace with the Shadd Piano based on the technology you see [in his booth presentation]? I ended up with 864 signatures in four days. I got the rest of them from DC Public Schools.

I had six people across and three deep the whole time. I had no idea there was going to be this much interest. This little church lady with a pillbox hat points up to the poster and says, "You mean, we've got a piano!" When she said that, it was like the whole place stopped — it went silent to me, I did not hear a word. At that moment, I knew that this wasn't about me; this was much bigger than me. I'm thinking I'm a conduit, being the first African-American piano manufacturer, and some would say the first African-American musical instrument maker — we don't make trumpets, trombones, tubas...

What's been the reaction of the players to your piano?

Pianist Christian Sands stands with a Shadd Piano at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in 2014.i
Pianist Christian Sands stands with a Shadd Piano at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in 2014.
Courtesy of Warren Shadd
It was kind of tough initially to get cats to come out here and play the piano. One cat — after he came out and played the piano and was overwhelmed — said 'You know, I've got to apologize. I didn't come out at first because I didn't want to be disappointed!'

How are you going about connecting with piano players?

One player at a time. I call folks, they come over, they play the piano, and they're wowed. Barry Harris was here three weeks ago and he's brought some attention to some other folks about this piano. Church musicians are in here all the time now. I do know there's a responsibility with this, to make the best piano — not one of the best — the best piano, period, in the world, and that's what I believe I've done. As a people, we can't be parallel; we've got to be three times as good. I'm a perfectionist, so every nuance that goes into this piano has to be the very best.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Entrepreneurs make strategic deposit in Black-owned bank

(—In a strategic effort to continue the movement of “Black-on-Black economics”±circulating dollars in the Black community to every extent possible—a group of Black male entrepreneurs led by the U.S. Black Chambers Inc. has opened accounts with the D.C.-based Black-owned Industrial Bank.

“In order for there to be a strong Black America, you must have strong Black businesses. In order for there to be strong Black businesses, we must have strong Black banks. So, from my standpoint, this is just a reciprocation for what Industrial Bank has done for our communities for the last 80 years,” said USBC CEO Ron Busby Sr. “There’s a trillion dollars of spending power in our community and we want to make sure that dollar stays within our community. Twenty-eight days a dollar stays in the Asian community, twenty-one days a dollar stays in the Hispanic community. In our community, our dollar leaves within six hours. We have got to change that…Until we have total control of how we circulate our money, our power and respect will continue to be marginalized.”

The 15 young men who gathered in the lobby of the historic Industrial Bank are members of the Black Male Entrepreneurship Institute, which is in partnership with the USBC. The meeting took on a celebratory mode as Industrial President/CEO Doyle Mitchell congratulated Busby for his influence.
“I’m just humbled at the presence of mind that you have displayed since you first came to town and started taking a leadership role with the Chamber of Commerce and came to Industrial Bank and made a $5,000 deposit. You put your money where your mouth is,“ said Mitchell. “Our only solution for us to get out of the situation that we are in as Black people is Black on Black economics. I love and appreciate the way you have taken that forward with this effort.”

Busby recalled that when he made that $5,000 deposit five years ago, he was intentionally choosing Black businesses in every area of his life. Buying a house at the time, he said he made sure he had a Black mortgage company, title company, home inspector, pest control company, and moving company. “Everybody that touched the transaction was a Black firm. The service was superior and the price was right.” Since then, Busby has become a leading advocate for support of Black banks and Black-owned businesses. In that regard, USBC has now launched an ongoing fundraising effort for the BMEI, co-founded by Randall Keith Benjamin, Jr. and Howard R. Jean, who accompanied the young entrepreneurs to the bank.