August is National Black Business month and I am so excited to be a black business owner. This month Black businesses and Black entrepreneurs are recognized and celebrated for their successes in business. Throughout history, Black businesses have endured systemic racism, redlining, and even violence as evidenced by the Tulsa Massacre in which an economically thriving Black community in Tulsa’s Greenwood District was attacked and destroyed in 1921.
Black Business Month was created by two entrepreneurs, John William Templeton and Frederick E. Jordan, in 2004 who shared a passion for Black-owned businesses and understood how important those businesses are to economic growth. John William Templeton was an editor of the oldest Black newspaper in America. Frederick E. Jordan didn’t have many financing options when he started his engineering and construction management company in 1969. They wanted to bring new customers to the more than two million Black-owned businesses in the country and to help shape and inform policy decisions that affect black businesses.
Black-owned businesses account for about 30 percent of all minority-owned businesses and still face unnecessary hurdles both in terms of startup and in successfully turning a profit. National Black Business month began as a way to raise awareness of those challenges and to advocate for the entrepreneurs that run Black businesses, as well as those who would like to.
According to the Annual Business Survey data, “Blacks or African Americans owned approximately 124,551 businesses, with about 28.5 percent or 35,547 of these businesses in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector, the highest percentage of any minority group,” as of 2018.
The past two years have also disproportionately impacted Black businesses due to the pandemic which forced many businesses to close, resulting in a 40 percent drop in Black business ownership. In spite of it all, Black businesses continue to grow and succeed. According to the Yelp Local Economic Impact Report, Black businesses and women-owned businesses have persevered despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic.
Black business owners today can partially give credit to historic figures like Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Du Bois who established organizations and guidelines for the development and growth of Black enterprises. They also encouraged financial literacy among Black communities by establishing organizations such as the National Negro Business League.
Booker T. Washington founded the National Negro Business League in 1900. It was established as an institution made up of members of the Black community who were business owners, community figures, and educators to pursue prosperity, financial growth, and economic development among the African American community.
Today, the National Negro Business League is recognized as the National Business League, headquartered in Washington D.C. The legacy of the National Negro Business League is evident in several economic and business organizations across the U.S. such as the U.S. Black Chambers and the National Black Chamber of Commerce.
In 1993, the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) was incorporated in Washington, D.C., and has 140 affiliated chapters throughout the U.S. The NBCC, “is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity within the United States.”
As black business owners, we must continue to acknowledge, support, and celebrate National Black Business Month every year. To me, it’s more important than ever as Black businesses continue to recover from the economic losses caused by the pandemic.