Okay Black Businesses, Let's Create A REAL Plan

flcbb logoby Jonathan S. Blount
Firstly, may I echo the sentiments of gratitude and appreciation to the visionaries who provided the conceptional inspiration for "Black Business Day" advocacy and to those who took the time to support an auspicious beginning.

As Founding Chair and President of Essence Communications, several other media and other business entities, I helped to create catagories of Black Business opportunity and interest. I never could have imagined that over 45 years later, We would still be fighting the same battles. Yet today, we must fight harder since generationally, there is a disconnection as to the need for such advocacy and action. Clearly, "We have not Overcome

As I expressed, it was disappointing that such a relatively few Black Legislators (about four) actually

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showed up. Their sense of black business consciousness was compromised in that the event was held at The FSU Conference Center, rather than at FAMU; the lunch was catered by Panera rather than a Black owned restaurant and very likely, the imprinted canvass bags were probably not purchased from a Black Specialties vendor. No other ethnic group would embrace other than their own when provided an opportunity. We must stress doing business with each other as a first option. How do we legitimately petition majority businesses to give us an "Equal Opportunity to Compete" and "Affirmative Opportunity" if we do not "Lead by Example!" Why should they include us if we exclude ourselves?

Moreover, I am concerned that petitioning Black Legislators in Tallahassee for State business is at best "a long run for a short slide." They are a minority party, sub minority which does not allow for much leverage. Nonetheless, we can use every available voice on our behalf. Historically, the best leverage is applied from the Executive Branch. Thus, we need a Governor that is aligned with our agenda. That office will task the Secretaries to participation "goals" for Black Businesses, hopefully as a quid pro quo for our support and votes.Reasonably, we should press our agenda before that office and as was suggested, candidates in pursuit.

Critically, I agree with the strategy that allows us to follow the line of least resistance and to pick the low hanging fruit.
Firstly, here in Central Florida, we target our Local Governments, Boards, Agencies, Authorities, Academia, Hospitals, Major businesses and press for a Supplier Diversity Program that is Black Specific.
It might behoove us to ask our National, State and Local elected officials to write letters of accountability inquiry about their level of Black Business participation. Nothing got the attention of our Public Broadcasting System like the letter from Congresswoman Brown. It brought a CPB Ombudsmans Investigation.

I suggest we, use "The Spooney Principles" as Articulated by Dr Spooney in the Orlando Times, Mar 13-19 Issue, "Orlando Health is not Operating Honestly": Commitment from senior leadership, dedicated staff, cross-functional accountability with set targets, goals and priorities.

Secondly, we might benefit from collaborative voice and action. Previously, The AACC, the CACC, The Black MBA, RYSE and others have discussed sending a jointly signed letter of inquiry and demand to the target entities as listed above. Perhaps expanding that list to include as many Black professional, business, social, fraternal and soroietal, political, faith based and other organizations will provide impact leverage.

Perhaps, we should organize an Advocacy and Watchdog team that attends the Board and other key influence meetings to voice our agenda. This would insure that we have first line information on upcoming projects and maintain a watchful presence that maintains top of mind awareness and subtle pressure. "Out of sight, out of mind."

We might consider, since most of us have to work daily in immediate paying activities, that we need a cadre of those whom we can support or who can afford to act as our "in your face lobbyist."
The other suggestions that we 1. Present before the Black Legislative Caucus, 2.Attend meetings with the Secretaries, 3.Meet with the current crop of Political Candidates, 4. Co-pressure with the NAACP Economic Development Committee and anything else we can creatively conceive certainly merit our consideration.

Whatever we decide, we must maintain momentum and "Keep On Pushin!"
As was the slogan in South Africa against Apartheid:

"Aluta Continua" (The Struggle Continues)

Jonathan

Jonathan Sebastian Blount
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
202.997.7574


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