We've seen this movie before-the aftermath of Nov. 8

When Arnold Schwarznegger famously said, "I'll be back," we had no idea he would transform into Donald Trump.   After Nov. 8, the Terminator movie has come to fruition in an election which recalls the improbable recall of a sitting California governor in 1998 to be replaced by an action picture star who still can not pronounce the name of the state.

In Minnesota during the same decade, the bluest of states turned to a former wrester, Jesse Ventura, as its governor.  Both projected the image of being "strong", impatient men of action.    

Since then, voters in both states have gone in a different direction.  In the Golden State, the party which Schwarznegger wanted to reshape is completely shut out of statewide leadership.  In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton has pursued the kind of policies which would have made Hubert Humphrey proud.

After Schwarznegger and Ventura, it was completely predictable that Trump could catch the same mythology of white privilege.  However, he had help from a Democratic Party, that like in the late 1990s in California, became far too comfortable with billionaires.   For most of the year, the wave of discontent washed on the Democratic shores though the equally improbable candidacy of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

African-Americans failed to heed the advice of Frederick Douglass -- no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent interests-- and accepted the recommendation of senior black political leaders to wholeheartedly back former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.   His signature issue of free college for everyone should have gotten much more traction as one of our permanent interests.     

When Clinton relied on the black vote in South Carolina to beat back Sanders, I realized then that she was creating a trap for herself, which sprang on the weekend of the general election.   Even President Obama avoided directly appealing to the black vote during his two successful election bids, because he knew that it would come at the cost of losing white supporters.

Clinton pivoted to a general election strategy after the convention as the same black political leaders who backed her complained that her campaign did not invest in attracting black voters, particularly with its vast fundraising edge.

But after being blindsided by the FBI in the last week of the election, Clinton went back to the well with a full-fledged blitz of celebrities, claiming that black voters would carry her to victory.    Despite the success of the Obama presidency, the country is not willing to accept our ability to select leaders.

What the history of California and Minnesota tells us that it doesn't take long for the truly incomprehensible to become clear to voters.  People of good will need to reassess their tactics, in the same fashion that the 13th Amendment was revived after being rejected in 1864, and remember to reach out to people like Sanders did instead of bombarding them with television ads.

In my book Road to Ratification: How 27 States Tackled the Most Pressing Issue in American History, I describe how advocates turned public opinion towards the aim of justice.

A failure to do so quickly will lead to the kind of result that I noted from the watershed elections in 1876 and 1968, with 40 year consequences.



2016 resembles 1968, 1876 elections

Many have remarked that Tuesday's Presidential election is like none other in American history.   Actually, it is quite similar to the elections in 1968 and 1876.    Both were watersheds in America's approach to the issue of black-white relations.

Republican nominee Donald J. Trump's campaign and rhetoric are almost identical to that of George C. Wallace in 1968.   That election came after eight years of unprecedented social legislation, and a season of tumult in the streets from the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I realized the connection while touring the African-American Museum and Library in Oakland's exhibit on the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party.  There it was striking how the exact same issues of excessive violence and economic discrimination were at  the top of the agenda.

Wallace appealed to whites that 'they needed to send a message."  The Republican establishment candidate, Richard Nixon, said "law and order" was required.    Democrat Hubert Humphrey had to fend off a challenge from a very liberal senator, Eugene McCarthy, and Bobby Kennedy, that left the Democratic Party split.

Likewise in 1876, the federal government had expanded its powers through the Ulysses Grant administration, using military force to provide political power to freedmen and beating back the Ku Klux Klan.   His successor, Rutherford B. Hayes, would lose the popular vote, but had to make the Compromise of 1876 to remove federal troops from the South in order to be elected by Congress over Samuel J. Tilden.

In both cases, African-Americans had to face a backlash against hard-won gains.   All three elections are referenda on protecting white privilege.   It does not matter that white privilege has never done better than the performance during the administration of Barack H. Obama, the first African-American president.

Trump has insulated himself from foibles that would have destroyed any other candidate by positioning himself as the savior of whiteness.  Whatever the final result on Tuesday, he will have succeeded in gaining the majority of votes from whites and will likely be the victor in the largest number of states.

For African-Americans, history offers these examples. Vote now, or lose the opportunity to affect your own destiny.  The 1876 election had the effect of undoing the 15th Amendment, which insured the right to vote for the freedmen, only six years after its passage.

We need not determine whether we vote based on personal attachment to one candidate or the other.

Because 14 members of the Congressional Black Caucus have more than 20 years in office, at least eight are poised to become committee chairs if the control of the House of Representatives switches to the Democratic Party.  With the possibility of a close race like 1876 when the House will determine the winner of the Presidential election, it is imperative that our focus be on what Frederick Douglass called "our permanent interests."

The Obama administration, like the Lyndon Johnson/Kennedy years and the Ulysses Grant terms, passed in its first two years, the most sweeping legislation of the last 50 years.   That occurred when African-Americans chaired committees like the Judiciary Committee and the Oversight Committee.

A member of the leadership team of BlackWealth 2020, I meet monthly with other national opinion leaders on how to increase African-American income over the next five years.   One of the necessary steps will be a focus on public policy from federal, state and local elected officials which will only come as more African-Americans hold office.

For black women, increasing the 20 black women who currently serve in Congress, the 259 who serve in state legislatures and placing some in position to chair committees that determine, for instance, whether support is increased for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is a reason for an unprecedented turnout across the country.  Lisa Blunt Rochester is expected to become the first black Congresswoman from Delaware.

The likely election of a third African-American to the U.S. Senate has salient to the still-unfilled vacancy on the Supreme Court.  In combination with the makeup of Congress, filling that position could have a 50-year impact on black progress in this country.   At the state level, black candidates such as Mike Morgan, running for Associate Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, can dramatically affect the direction of justice.

From a historical perspective, 2016 is not a year when African-Americans should sit out the election.  It is an opportunity to change the direction of the future.






 

Change the tone: talk about the 27.2 percent unemployed among African-American youth

WASHINGTON -- As the final presidential debate of 2016 occurs in Las Vegas Wednesday, the optimist in us would like to see the increasingly desultory tone of the campaign take a chill pill to discuss a topic of interest to the African-American community -- how to address African-American unemployment.

In September, the overall rate for African-American unemployment was 8.3 percent, down from 9.1 percent one year ago.   In practical terms, that means 100,000 more African-Americans have jobs than last year.    By sector, black women were doing better, with a 7 percent unemployment rate compared to 8.2 percent for adult men.  But the 27.2 percent unemployment rate for black youth continues to be an overlooked phenomenon.

It is a deficiency in the performance of the Obama administration -- that the first African-American president has not more forcefully employed equal employment opportunity for federal contractors; enhanced African-American businesses or given historically black colleges and universities the support needed.   In the past week, there has been an appearance at N.C. A&T State University and a photo op for the My Brothers Keeper initiative.    But, whenever improving the African-American economy is discussed, the only option is volunteer activity.

This comes in the context of the massive stimulus given to Wall Street over the past ten years, none of which came into African-Amercian communities.  We need to hear from those who would succeed Obama what kind of direct investment they will make in black businesses, with black-owned banks to create the jobs needed.




 
 
 

I had a conversation with Shonda Patton, event manager for Oracle.   That means she's in charge of the sixth largest convention in the United States and the largest in San Francisco.  This week, Howard Street is closed off again for OracleWorld.  Yerba Buena Square is being used as a lunch room and somewhere north of 60,000 people are wandering around downtown with red badges.   To make sure some of that tourism spending goes into the African-American community, we launched the latest edition of our African-American Freedom Trail brochure which lists historic sites, businesses, churches and other attractions.

While being asked by the Guardian's Julia Carrie Wong to address the lack of visible African-Americans in technology, I was reminded that my first introduction to Oracle was to meet Michael Fields, the African-American technology and management wizard who was president of Oracle when it became the dominant player in database technology.    There's no trace of him this week, nor of Charles Phillips, who succeeded Fields as co-president of Oracle.  He's also black.  

Fields died of cancer in 2010, just months after his partner, Dr. Frank Greene, passed.  Together, they had raised $80 million for New Vista Capital, a venture capital fund to invest in underrepresented group innovators.   Fields also acquired a building in downtown Oakland to house the companies he funded.

 Fields led successful organizations at a number of large corporations, including Oracle U.S.A, where he served as president, Applied Data Research and Burroughs Corp. In addition, Mr. Fields was the founder, chairman of the Board of Directors and chief executive officer of OpenVision Technologies, Inc, which was acquired by VERITAS in 1997.  When he passed, he had been CEO of KANA Software, now owned by Verint.

When I came to Silicon Valley as editor of the San Jose Business Journal in 1987, Fields was in place at Oracle, John Paul Moon was vice president of engineering at Apple, a post he had held since 1980 and Dr. Marc Hannah was chief scientist of Silicon Graphics.    About 10 years later, Dr. Greene, who had been at Fairchild designing the circuit board for the Iliac IV supercomputer in the 1960s, and Roy Clay Sr., who was manager of computer research and development for Hewlett Packard in 1965, encouraged me to  write the history of those pioneers.   Gerald A. Lawson was there, having designed the first cartridge game console in 1974, John Henry Thompson wrote the online language of interactivity Lingo and Ron L. Jones, creator of the raster image processor for large-format printing, was an ubiquitous inventor.

So I was commissioned to do the exhibition Turning the Century: African-American Innovators in the Industrial Age and at the Turn of the Century at the Tech Museum of Innovation in 1998.  The cause that Greene and Fields did not live to see fulfilled is now part of why football players fail to stand during the national anthem.

In the 1980s, tech jobs afforded African-Americans across the Bay Area the opportunity to live lives of unprecedented affluence and impact. Their legacy must be preserved to counteract the revisionist history that African-Americans have not contributed to our industrial society.



 
 
 

Celebrity starts at home for will.i.am

The Black-Eyed Peas have been chart toppers for so long, that it is worth remembering their humble roots. will.i.am, who has experienced the journey from being an East Los Angeles unknown to a global celebrity, and the other members of the Black Eyed Peas don't forget.

The remake of Where's the Love demonstrates that connection, they said in a discussion at the Apple Store San Francisco with Angela Ahrendts, head of Apple retail.  will.i.am said there is a strong San Francisco tie to its creation.  They were in the City completing an album when 9/11 occurred the day before their first big nationwide tour.  After experiencing profound emotions from New York to Los Angeles by tour's end in November, they wrote the first iteration of the song, which has had 200 million downloads.

"I got this email from Switzerland, saying it's time to remake Where's the Love," said will.i.am, gesturing towards Ahrendts, who wrote it.  After resisting, the group found inspiration from the continuing spate of tragedies due to violence around the world.  The game changer for will.i.am is the opportunity to help his i.am foundation because all the proceeds from the video will go towards education.

"Gen. Colin Powell told me start in your community," he recalled.  "So the foundation adopted eighth graders and promised to send them to college.   The cohort from East Los Angeles has an average grade point average of 3.8 and is now in college, with 75 percent majoring in science disciplines."   After the shooting of Michael Brown, will.i.am send some of his students from East Los Angeles to encourage interest in science.

"One of my students pointed out that there is a $7,000 diffference in spending between the schools where the incidents of violence happen and there communities,"  he said.  As part of a GPS mapping exercise, they noted that their school district in Los Angeles got $4,000 per student of aid, while Beverly Hills students got $11,000.

"The outcome I want to see si iOS classes in every school in the inner city," continued will.ia.m. "All those schools have football fields and basketball courts, but that only serves one industry, the NFL  I think there should be computer instruction in every school."

.



Sargent Johnson, Barack Obama and Kaepernick

Sargent Johnson's Incas on Llamas  at Tresure Island for the 1939 World's Far, is now being refurbished to go to Pier 27 cruise ship terminal next year.

 
 

The common question for Sargent Johnson, Barack Obama, John Carlos and Tommie Smith and Colin Kaepernick is how, when and if to be black. I am leading a discussion of Sargent Johnson for the opening of the 10th annual Preserving California Black Heritage conference on Saturday, Sept. 10 because he answered that question better than anyone in the 20th century.

In the case of Johnson, Obama and Kaepernick, each had the option if they would be considered black because of skin complexion and their family circumstances.  Like Kaepernick, Johnson was adopted after being born to mixed race parents.  Carlos and Smith had the option when they ascended the gold medal steps during the 1968 Olympics.  Obama had to figure out how to be the first black President.

When it comes to NFL quarterback jobs, the 49ers starting job is not unlike reaching the Presidency.   Kaepernick was the first to be considered on a level with Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young when he burst onto the scene.

When Sargent Johnson came to San Francisco in 1915 to study art on the site of the current Mark Hopkins Hotel, the Joe Montana of the art world was Beniano Bufano, Johnson's teacher.  Johnson would take two coveted commissions away from his mentor and teacher -- the fresco at the front of the S.F. Maritime Historical Park and "The History of Athletics" on the George Washington High School football field.   Just before those controversial decisions, Johnson went on record with the statement that he was creating a "Negro art," which showed the facial features of black Americans in a positive , distinguished way.  The statement was revolutionary for 2016, but Johnson said it in 1935.   The comment coincided with the greatest period of Johnson's 60 years as a working artist.   Over the next three years, Johnson would complete the Aquatic Park, George Washington High School and two pieces for the 1939 World's Fair.   In 1935, the smoke had just settled from the shooting of labor organizers in 1934.

Although Johnson's siblings all chose to be white, Johnson took the one of the most coveted stages in art to declare his blackness, tilting one of his signature pieces "Forever Free."  But, almost nowhere in the accounts of Johnson does one find criticism of Johnson for his stands.  In fact, the S.F. Art Commission voted in public session to take the Aquatic Park and George Washington High school projects away from Bufano and give them to Johnson.

Without giving away my plot, his strategy for being the artistic toast of San Francisco when most African-Americans could not drink from a white water fountain is useful for today's black notables, whether quarterback of the 49ers or President of the United States.  Without Johnson's stage setting, it is unlikely that Carlos and Smith would have been so effective in their protest.

Come out to Fisherman's Wharf Saturday, Sept. 10 for the facilitated dialogue on Chance and Fairness led by Ranger Noemesha Williams that follows my talk and the facilitated dialogue by Professor James Taylor, director of African-American studies at the University of San Francisco on Jonestown.  It is a question we all have to face daily.

A Thin Line between Love and Hate

SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the benefits of having been a journalist for 43 years is memory.   Upon the passing of "the Greatest" Muhammad Ali, I remember that he was not universally loved during the time that he acquired his reputation.   He might have been the most hated American in the late 1960s by those who considered him "so far out of place" for what they considered acceptable for a "colored" athlete.

Like Nelson Mandela, his force of personality transcended hate.  For African-Americans, the verdict was never in  question.  When Jim Brown, Curtis McClinton, Bill Russell, and Lew Alcindor chose to stand behind his decision not to register for the draft during the Vietnam War, an entire people appreciated his willingness to forego fame and fortune for his beliefs.

Eventually that identity would become marketable in the construction of the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville on the banks of the Ohio River just across from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati.  In the symmetry of history, Ali represented all the Africans who chose to cast off shackles while still under the threat of slavery in order to cross over the river to freedom.

He would also connect Africans back with their motherland by staging the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire, with a Pan African sensibility still not common.

As people who would never have acknowledged him when he was at his prime spew forth with tributes on his passing, we must remember the real standard for honesty, dignity and integrity that he set.  He had wealth but wasn't consumed by it; fame but not controlled by it and most importantly, love, which he returned in equal measure.

 
 
 

​For Obama, the unkindest cut of all

Despite the fact that the two people who  most questioned whether he was actually born in America were the last two standing for the Republican nomination, the unkindest cut of all for President Barack Obama is the accusation that "he's not black enough."  He mentioned it two Saturdays in a row,  first at the White House Correspondents dinner.

It makes sense for someone whose first real shot at fame was a book about going to Africa to find his father's roots.  Despite the absence of any mention that he's black on his official WhiteHouse.gov biography, the First Lady's official biography pointedly mentions that she had a double-major in African-American studies at Princeton and is the first African-American First Lady.

So, on May 7, President Obama came in search of the ultimate global symbol of blackness--something that Morgan Freeman said last year was more prestigious than playing God in the movies --a Howard University honorary degree.    It was only half-in-jest that the President began his commencement speech by quipping spontaneously to the 250,000 in attendance, "Now I really feel important."

Although the Washington Post's Colbert King had hoped Obama would follow in the footsteps of Lyndon Johnson and make an important policy speech, for the President, this was personal. Dr. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley have been the major critics, but his real accuser has been the facts.  

Black unemployment is  still nine percent, blacks in his hometown of Chicago feel that life has gotten worse for their children in a New York Times poll published yesterday and  Our10Plan: State of Black Business, 13th edition gives the Obama administration a D score for support of black-owned business.

.I've quipped often that it's been five years since I've seen anyone with an Obama T-shirt, the unofficial black uniform in 2008-2009.  Most African-Americans have been polite and understanding of the difficulty of becoming President of the United States such that they've avoided direct criticism, particularly when he has been so unfairly maligned by his Republican critics.

The commencement speech was his response to that deeply personal criticism.   Some raised eyebrows when comedian Larry Wilmore used the "n-word" to him, but in reality, the worst insult any black person can get is to be called "white."  Try it and see.

President Obama expanded the timeline as he said there was no better time to  be "young, gifted and black."  His measuring stick was his graduation date of 1984 from Columbia, when New York City was almost bankrupt and the Cold War still raged. Now, there are more blacks in positions of authority in business and government, twice as many blacks have college degrees.  He noted, "Shonda Rimes runs Thursday night and Beyonce runs the world."

However, he runs the federal government. The best measuring stick of his performance has been declining black voter turnout, a drop he said from 60 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2014.

For his  critics, Obama contended he could have done more if those voters had turned out, producing  a more cooperative Congress.

But, using  his own advice, that better is good, Obama should take his new Howard degree as a license to convince those voters that real  change can occur. Through Education Secretary John King, he can put the mission of improving k-12 education for black students in the hands of Howard and the other historically-black colleges with the research and programming funds to spread their 150 years of experience instead of the privitized model without needed cultural competence, that has savaged Detroit and Chicago schools.

Following the example of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Howard alum, he can also make those campuses hubs for small business innovative research spending to spur the job creation needed in black communities.

The campuses and their communities can use the boost, instead of federal funding making millionaires without producing results.  In nine remaining months, it's the best way he can earn that doctorate of science.

Forty years ago, Maynard Jackson was commencement speaker when I graduated from Howard. All of his successors have been black because he set in motion tangible and lasting economic progress that everyone could see.














Fed's rate increase leaves black workers by the side of road

WASHINGTON -- The announcement of the rate increase by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors ignores the "black jobs crisis" discussed at last week's National Black Caucus of State Legislators.  As Valerie Wilson of the Economic Policy Institute notes, black unemployment is far above the level seen in 2000, when functional full employment was achieved.

Although the general unemployment rate is down to 5 percent, African-American unemployment is still officially at 9.4 percent.  The worst part of monetary policy is the distorted capital flow from quantitative easing, which is fueling a wave of gentrification across the country.

That's why we have called for a reallocation of at least $36 billion yearly to black-owned banks and investment funds in order to fuel hiring by black businesses.  Because of the paltry $380 million available in SBA loans to 2.6 million black firms, their ability to create jobs is severely impaired.    Increasing the number of African-American entrepreneurs with employees from 100,000 to 300,000 would make a significant dent in the unemployment imbalance by putting two million new workers on the job. 

With 53 percent of black wealth lost since 2007, the Fed refuses to target resources, although it stood by as predatory lenders targeted that community.   #BLACKDOLLARSMATTER: State of Black Business, 12th edition has the roadmap for an economic fairness monetary policy.

 
 
 
 

Tis the season to be folly...tra la la la la  la

At least once every second between now and next November, someone will step forth to say that they represent black voters.

It is an industry that had been in decline, because it was a hard sell to white folks when they presumed that the most powerful man on earth was speaking for us..  But with the race in full steam to replace President Obama, new "leaders" are more than ready to conflate their own personal interests with the vacuum of the black agenda.

It is not unlike the Old Testament book of Judges, where it is written: "There was no king among them and every man did what he thought was best."

Given that an objective assessment of the reign of President Obama as the designated black leader gets grades ranging from our "incomplete" in #BLACKDOLLARSMATTER: State of Black Business, 12th edition to "disastrous" in the words of former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, we can't afford a continued vacuum.

This Saturday, I'm presenting Our10Plan, the African-American economic strategy to the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, drawn from the research in #BLACKDOLLARSMATTER and Silicon Ceiling 15: Equal Opportunity and High Technology.  The plan, which I developed at the request of the National Bankers Association, led by President Michael Grant, is simple.

Achieve ten percent of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2020.

 Currently African-Americans receive about six percent of the $17 trillion economy, with an aggregate income according to the U.S. Census' American Community Survey of $1 trillion in 2016.   Yet we are 11 percent of the population, meaning that we are economically still "three-fifths of a man."    That gap is at the heart of everything from police brutality to educational outcomes and health disparities.   When others in authority look at us, they assume we don't have the resources to protect ourselves.   When you're on the street facing a gun barrel, the President doesn't have any coattails.

A new wave of ferment is spreading across the country, everywhere from football teams to homeowners fighting off gentrification of their historic neighborhoods.   The ability of practically anyone to spark national outrage through technology renders the old concept of "designated black leader" irrelevant.    

That is the way that it has always been.  Anyone who endured the months long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean shackled in a slave ship earned the right to leadership and to speak for themselves.   It is really more important to know what we represent than who represents us.

This Sunday, Dec. 6, is the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment, the most important event in African-American history.  Contrary to popular belief, it was not Abraham Lincoln who ended slavery, but the Georgia legislature, following in close succession the South Carolina, Alabama and North Carolina legislatures in November 1865.   California, Oregon and Florida would also ratify later in December.

ReUNION: Education-Arts-Heritage, the African children's channel, presents the actual documents of ratification at reunionnetwork.info and a six week narrative on the road to ratification beginning in January.    Our freedom is at risk 150 years later because we don't have the history of how we achieved it.

As former Rep. Ron Dellums said at Howard University last year, "Don't fight the battles we already won."

When we have had clear objectives that the broader black community of all political persuasions could clearly envision, we have an unbroken track record of success.  I described Our10Plan recently on The Empowerment Hour hosted by John Harmon, chairman of the board of the National Black Chamber of Commerce and president of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

We need only look at the example of First Peoples to see how a dramatic increase in income changes the way a community is viewed and treated.  Tribal leaders don't do photo ops with politicians, any more. Politicians vie for photo ops with them.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. GDP is projected to be $20.1 trillion by 2020.  That means a ten percent share would be just over $2 billion, double our current ratio.   Achieving that objective means creating many more large-scale enterprises, eliminating the gap in access to credit for the 2.6 million African-American business owners, eliminating the disparity in unemployment, reducing the cost of education and holding political leaders accountable at every level of government for producing economic equity.

In any project  scenario, we can use the five year transportation law as a guide, which mandates ten percent go to disadvantaged small businesses.   New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set a bar of 30 percent of state contracts to minority businesses, the highest of any state.  Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has matched that and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has set a target of 50 percent to certified business enterprises.

We must be vigilant against euphemisms like affordable housing which purport to protect our interest, but actually work against us.  While we focus on personalities and rhetoric, others are setting the policy environment that compromises our interests.   Studying the earliest freedom fighters is very relevant to the future because their eloquence, and strategic focus is the template for us to follow.

We should not let our current designated leader off the hook for the next 13 months.  There is much more that the federal government can do to eliminate barriers in the marketplace and unfairness to black consumers.  The reality is that we will probably not have an opportunity like the present to change our conditions.  We shouldn't get ahead of ourselves jockeying to be in a photo op with his successor.

There is a sophistication needed to analyze carefully the impact of every policy and every economic action in the global economy on African-Americans and the wider diaspora.  We should not gain attention with dissent and then fall silent when asked, "What's the solution?"



 
 
 

Pullman porters made it possible for blacks to ride trains

Comer Lawrence Dellums would have never treated his passengers the way that Lisa Renee Johnson and her book club were treated on the Napa Valley Wine Train.   The group of 13 black women have become global celebrities after being escorted off the train over the weekend for laughing too boisterously for several purported white guests.   (SFSOUL SHUTTLE takes a tour on Oct. 3 to the Theopolis Winery, Theodora Lee, Esq. proprietor, for its Harvest and Bottle Opening Party.  Reserve by Sept. 15 at BuyBooks tab)

Such racial microaggressions are endemic for African-Americans, and unfortunately in the Bay Area, where the leading edge of the movement against discrimination in public accomodations broke through, they are all too frequent, not only by retail employees but also by law enforcement.   I've been detained three times by local police in the last year alone.  I also received a lifetime achievement award from the City and County of San Francisco.

Despite the energy generated by the Black Lives Matter movement and the cascade of police killings, something I've also had to deal with first hand with the slaying of my younger brother in custody in 2004, it is the daily microaggression like the Napa Valley Wine Train incident which all African-Americans face on a daily basis.   In my 1992 book Success Secrets of Black Executives,  Roy Clay Sr., the godfather of Silicon Valley, told of waiting in an office lobby for an appointment but when the assistant came out and saw a black person, they turned around.

The question is what to do when it happens to you.  C.L. Dellums' motto was "fight or be slaves."   Until 1960, the only people who would have served on passenger trains in the United States would have been black men, a tradition which started before the Civil War.   Known as Pullman porters, they began to organize under A. Philip Randolph just after World War I, but were not recognized as unions until 1935 when Randolph gave a speech in San Francisco at the Hotel Whitcomb.    We took librarians and union members there for a Labor and the African-American Freedom Trail tour during the American Library Association conference this summer.   Dellums was the West Coast vice president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and also regional director of the NAACP for four decades from the 1920s to the 1960s.

His signature accomplishment was the Unruh Civil Rights Act of 1957, which banned discrimination in housing, employment and public accomodation based on race.  In Our Roots Run Deep: the Black Experience in California, Vol. 3, we cite this as the most important accomplishment for blacks in the Golden State in the 20th century.

It is still relevant, because the answer to the discriminatory treatment that the book club faced while enjoying an excursion through the wine country is that very law.

Chapter 4 - Public Accomodations, Businesses and Services

The Unruh Civil Rights Act

The Unruh Civil Rights Act (76),
or Unruh Act, as discussed in the housing chapter of this publication,
applies to all business establishments of every kind whatsoever which
provide services, goods, or accommodations to the public. Businesses
subject to the Unruh Act include bookstores, gymnasiums, shopping
centers, mobile home parks, bars and restaurants, schools, medical and
dental offices, hotels and motels, and condominium homeowners
associations.
(77)
The Unruh Act prohibits all types of arbitrary discrimination, and not
just discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry,
national origin, age, disability or medical condition.
(78)
The Unruh Act also prohibits discrimination based on personal
characteristics, geographical origin, physical attributes, and
individual beliefs. For example, the arbitrary exclusion of individuals
from a restaurant based on their sexual orientation is prohibited.
(79)

You can pursue an Unruh Act claim by filing a verified complaint with
the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or a private
lawsuit. If a business establishment is engaging in a pattern or
practice of discrimination, you can refer the matter to the Attorney
General's Office or to your local district or city attorney.

The day I met Larry Leon Hamlin

WINSTON-SALEM -- I was just 23 years old, editor of my first newspaper at the Winston-Salem Chronicle, when an ebullient gentleman walked into my office.   Larry Leon Hamlin was his name and he was filled with vision about creating theater.

I was still young enough not to be jaded and devoted space to announcing his first productions of the North Carolina Black Repertory Theater.  My roommates in college were drama majors so it didn't seem far fetched to me and I had grown fond of the D.C. Black Repertory Theater while at Howard University.  

Almost 40 years later, it fills me with joy to see that vision that Larry saw so clearly come to pass not only into a thriving N.C. Black Repertory Theater, but also the National Black Theater Festival and now plans to create a permanent home for the Festival, in conjunction with the N.C. School of the Arts.   Larry has not lived to see the full fruition, but I can only imagine how "marvtastic" he feels.

China revaluation plays into the strategy of CreditSuisse's Thiam

ZURICH--The revaluation of the Chinese currency could not have happened at a better time for Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam.  When hired from his prior post as CEO of Britain's Prudential, his ability to gain wealthy customers from the Asia-Pacific region was regarded as a strong suit.

At his first quarterly results conference, Thiam was able to point to significant growth from that area for CreditSuisse, with $400 million of pre-tax income out of $1.8 billion for the quarter.

With Chinese currency buying less for Chinese asset holders, there is a capital flight out of the country that plays right into Thiam's hands as he takes a running start.

It is a trend also noticed by NBBM Co-founder Frederick Jordan who announced an EB-5 for foreign investors to take stock in job development in black communities during the  National Black Chamber of Commerce conference in Hollywood, FL.

The flood of new Chinese money will either enhance those neighborhoods, or flood out the current occupants, driving up real estate prices.  A similar pattern will be in effect in Africa, as cash looks for higher returns.


Opening up the public capital markets

Gerald Commissiong, CEO of Amarantus BioScience Holdings, discusses his bioengineering company at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose as blackmoney.com editor fields questions from the audience. Amarantus went public through a reverse merger and is heading toward listing on a major exchange.  NBBM's Catapulting Innovation program has prepared dozens of companies over the past five years to prepare for public offerings.

 

ORLANDO -- The first name one should think of when asking if there are African-American founded public companies is Mary Spio.  The author of the new book  It's Not Rocket Science runs two of them, Next Galaxy Corp. (NXGA) , and One2One Living (LOVI).  Next Galaxy sells a virtual reality headphone and is debuting a virtual reality platform for entertainment and other applications such as health care.  One2One Living is a lifestyle based dating service.  Spio, at the age of 26, gained a patent for Boeing on digital satellite video, the kind of technology that allowed the White House to watch the raid on Osama bin Ladin in real time.   It was adapted for use by the movie industry and now most movies are transmitted by satellite instead of film.

There are fewer than 20 African-Americans heading small-cap or large cap public firms as founding CEOs or board-hired executives.  That compares with 88 African-American generals and admirals in the U.S. armed forces and 907 African-Americans in the Senior Executive Service of the federal government.  Both of the latter groups routinely manage billion dollar operations.

The two in downtown San Francisco are both in biomedicine; Amarantus BioScience Holdings, led by Gerald Commissiong, (AMS)  and American Shared Hospital Services, (ASHS) run for 30 years by Dr. Ernest Bates. Amarantus announced the signing of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (Rutgers University) to expand the development of Amarantus' autologous full thickness skin replacement product, Engineered Skin Substitute (ESS), for the treatment of deep partial- and full-thickness burn wounds in adult patients.

Dr. Bates' company  provides turnkey technology solutions for advanced radiosurgical and radiation therapy services. AMS is the world leader in providing Gamma Knife radiosurgery equipment, a non-invasive treatment for malignant and benign brain tumors, vascular malformations and trigeminal neuralgia (facial pain). T

Eric Kelly founded Overland Storage which merged this year with Sphere 3D (NASDAQ: ANY) with Kelly continuing as chairman and CEO .  He rang the opening bell at NASCAQ in June for the provider of virtualization technology and data management solutions provider with a portfolio of workload-optimized solutions that address IT needs for delivering productivity through workspace and data infrastructure and management. 

Erin Energy in Houston (ERN:NYSE) has nine drilling concessions in four African countries and just began pumping from a 100 percent owned offshore well off the Nigerian coast.   It is the brainchild of Dr. Kase Lawal, CEO.

Radio One (ROIAK) is the largest provider of radio programming to African-American markets and also runs TVOne. Cathy Hughes is chair with her son Alfred Liggins as CEO.

Citizens Trust (CTZB) led by Cynthia Day as CEO, operates 11 branches in Atlanta and Columbus, GA; and Birmingham and Eutaw, AL, with a history that goes back to 1919.  Carver Federal Bank (CARV) serves New York City as a community development lender, led by Derrick Pugh.

As an investor, choosing companies with African-American CEOs, whether founders or hired executives, is a worthwhile strategy because African-American leaders are most often experienced turnaround specialists.     Like the election of President Barack Obama in the midst of the worst economic crisis in 70 years, black CEOs usually get their opportunity at the worst possible time.    

At the beginning of August, Marvin Ellison took over as CEO of J.C. Penney,(NYSE: JCP) the Plano-based department store chain.  "I am honored by this appointment and excited about the opportunity to help lead the continued resurgence of JCPenney. This Company has been an important part of the American retail landscape for over one hundred years," said Ellison.  "Today, it is moving in the right direction and there is an extraordinary passion to win at every level of the organization. As President and, ultimately, CEO, I will be focused on positioning the Company to compete in a rapidly changing retail environment for the benefit of our customers, shareholders, suppliers and associates. I am confident that we have the customer proposition, the brand, and the talent to make JCPenney successful over the long term."  Ellison, 49, has nearly 30 years of experience in the retail industry. He has spent the last 12 years at Home Depot. As executive vice president of U.S. stores since August 2008, he has been the senior-most operations leader for Home Depot's approximately 2,000 stores. 

Following the Costa Concordia disaster, Arnold Donald became CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, (CCL) the world's largest cruise ship operator.  Next May, the line has received approval to begin offering tours to Cuba, taking advantage of the new opening by the Obama administration. 

"We are excited about receiving U.S. approval as the very important first step to ultimately take travelers to under the existing 12 criteria for authorized travel. We look forward to working with the Cuban authorities for their approval to help make the social, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between U.S. citizens and the people of a reality," said Donald . "We know there is strong demand from travelers who want to immerse themselves in Cuban culture, so this is a historic opportunity for us to enable more people to experience Cuban society. It is also an important opportunity for our new fathom brand to expand its positive influence in the world with this potential to add full-week immersion sailings to  to its already planned full-week social-impact itineraries to the beginning in the spring of 2016."

Xerox faced the commodification of the copying business, but under CEO Ursula Burns, the first African-American Fortune 500 CEO, (NYSE: XRX)it has made a pivot into services, particularly in the burgeoning field of health IT.  

A newcomer to the ranks is Joel Gay, CEO of Energy Recovery Inc. (NASDAQ: ERII) in San Leandro, CA.  named in April 2015 after serving as chief financial officer since 2012. Its products transform industrial fluid flows and pressure cycles into reusable energy, using advanced technologies that adapt to the water, oil & gas, and chemical industries; making it possible to harness energy from almost any high-pressure fluid process. 

Kenneth Chenault has been CEO of American Express (NYSE: AXP) for over a decade, erasing memories of the cardholder's jeopardy when he took the post.   Warren Buffett considers American Express one of his "Big Four" investments.

Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck (NYSE: MRK), rose up through the company as a lawyer since 1992. Merck announced last month that its investigational Ebola vaccine candidate, rVSV-ZEBOV, was found to have 100 percent efficacy in an analysis of interim data from a Phase 3 ring vaccination trial in Guinea. Preliminary conclusions from this study, which is continuing, were published on-line today in The Lancet  The authors report that vaccine efficacy was 100 percent (95% confidence interval: 74.7 - 100%; p=0.0036) following vaccination with a single dose of the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine. It appeared that all vaccinated individuals were protected against Ebola virus infection within 6 to 10 days of vaccination.


Obama's last frontier: black business

 

ADDIS ABABA -- He's opened the embassy in Cuba, done the deal with the Ayatollah in Iran, sang in Charleston and eaten dinner with his Kenyan relatives.

From the right and left, everyone is remarking about the "new" unloosed Obama, who even talked a little smack here about winning a third term if he were allowed to run again.   His point was to hector Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, not that Mugabe cared.

We don't think he's any different than his biography, which mentions that he is the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review and does not mention race again.

The public has put the issues of race and inequality on the forefront, particularly African-American women like Michelle Obama, whose biography starts with being the "first African-American First Lady of the United States" and notes that she was a major in African-American studies at Princeton.


Understanding the Jackie Robinson paradigm, folks held their fire until it became unavoidable.  But there is one phrase the President has not uttered yet -- black business.

That could be his most enduring legacy.  The innovative ideas for creating jobs in Africa have been absent in the United States.  National Black Business Month has a definite plan to create 500,000 jobs by expanding business credit.  Obama can make it happen by executive action. Go for it!

 

Positive rapper Mad Lines, a teaching artist at San Francisco's Juvenile Justice Center, and DJ Moojie performed at the Black Love Festival by the Pacific Ocean..

 

Loving self is a super natural thing

Charles Moses, the interim dean of business at Clark Atlanta University, forwarded a photo of the Hilltop newspaper staff from 1973 from the Bison yearbook recently.    It hit me like a ton of bricks, as it did everyone in the shot.   We had a look of supreme confidence, given that we were 18 and 19 years old at the time, born of the experience of being in an environment where we were normal and valued.

I could tell from my Howard athletics gear that I had just returned from afternoon crosscountry practice, which consisted of running from the Capstone to the U.S. Capitol and sprinting the steps and then returning to campus.  We had to do it at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Sitting next to me was Elliott Wiley, who runs his own advertising agency in Baltimore after stints in television production.   We connected for the first time in 40 years and reflected on how the Howard experience had prepared us for the challenges ahead.    Talk to any graduate of a historically black college and university and they will have a similar account.     In a society where we have to debate whether "Black Lives Matter," that bonding is such a critical asset.

In my paper to the American Educational Research Association in May in Chicago, Belonging as a Prerequisite for Success, I discussed the ways to create "personal authenticity" in an environment of societal racism, particularly in K-12 classrooms.

This weekend, I saw how a grassroots movement is insisting on that personal authenticity,  in some respects forced by the continuing assaults on African-Americans at the hands of police.    At the first annual Black Love Festival on the shoreline of Bayview/Hunters Point, I told a KQED reporter that the day produced the "happiest black people I've seen in San Francisco in 20 years."

In San Francisco, the ranges of experience for African-Americans range from: 1) persecution -- 54 percent of all arrests are African-Americans in a city where most people have difficulty finding blacks  2) vilification--tour bus guides and concierges tell tourists to avoid neighborhoods with high black concentrations as "not like the rest of San Francisco; 3) oblivion --just being ignored and on the high end,  4)being tolerated--it looks bad if we don't have some blacks around.

China Pharr decided what was needed was a Black Love Festival next to the Bay with the Pacific Ocean in the background on the site of a power plant closed because of a community environmental movement.  Through social media, she brought out a crowd which many say doesn't exist--college educated natives who grew up in San Francisco, traditionally one of the middle class hubs for black achievers.   Bayview Hunters Point was called by the Ford Foundation one of the best organized black communities in the country in 1966 and it was one of the first two Model Cities. 

Those activists' children and grandchildren went on to become members of the Board of Supervisors, state Public Utilities Commission, general manager of the S.F. Public Utilities Commission, inventor of cardiac stents and many, many successful professionals.  Contrary to stereotype, many are still in the neighborhood despite extensive gentrification and displacement.  This event brought that group out and they were so happy that by five p.m., a Soul Train line had broken out followed by a conga line, steppin' and all kinds of African dance.

By then, I noticed there was scarcely a perm in the whole place.  Folks weren't worrying about sweating and losing their do because the natural look in as many permutations as their were heads is back, just like our freshman days in the early 1970s.

Now as it was for us, the natural look is a revolutionary statement against prevailing standards of beauty, but now it is also an economic imperative because the desire to enjoy long hair has become a billion dollar boon for Korean suppliers who took over the market.   Chris Rock's Good Hair documentary because the process of rethinking that consumer market.

But the latest round of police atrocities is notable for the visibility of black women who have stepped out front and the natural look is part of that statement.  So self-love is a prerequisite for mental health, but it is also a smart business decision as well.  Aluta continua (ask your parents or grandparents what that means)

 
 







The Hilltop was started by Zora Neale Hurston in 1924, but in 1973 we were the first group to work at the paper as students in the new School of Communication.

 
 














 

$34 million reasons to smile in Oakland

The news that the San Francisco Foundation received a $34 million anonymous donation to help the underserved residents of Oakland is the very kind of infusion we call for in our $30 billion challenge for National Black Business Month.  The support for a variety of organizations will create 2,500 jobs and hundreds of units of new housing.  It is an unprecedented scale for a community wide initiative.

However, these communities faced a $400 billion loss of wealth due to the subprime mortgage crisis.  Every community foundation should be looking for this scale of philanthropy into the communities, not at them.

 

The South shall rise again--with everyone at the table

 

PENSACOLA -- The key point to note about the removal of Confederate flags from Southern capitals is that the states which espoused the ideology have the largest black percentage population in the country.

The real meaning of the Confederate flag has been continued economic disparity for the third of the citizens of Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi and the substantial proportions of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, North Carolina and Virginia who are African-Americans.

Fifty three percent of all African-Americans still live in the South although racist violence caused many to move a century ago.   At the same time as the removal of the flag, the $18 billion settlement of the BP oil spill case offers an opportunity to get to the root of the matter.

Venturata's Tony McCray organized our Regional Economic Equity conference several years ago and keeps abreast of the many opportunities created by the BP settlement and Hurricane Katrina recovery -- the biggest economic investment in the South since the Tennessee Valley Authority.

As we reported in Missed Opportunity: State of Black Business, 3rd edition, very little of the recovery spending addressed the economic development of the Black Belt, despite the attention of Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and other Congressional Black Caucus members.  The BP settlement offers an opportunity to address those inequities in cultural heritage tourism, healthcare, industrial development, international trade and technology.

Alabama black mayors have been astute enough to write to Silicon Valley CEOs encouraging them to locate facilities in the low-wage areas of the South for the same reasons that those companies have migrated off-shore.  The presence of dozens of historically-black colleges  and universities offers the trained workforce which they claim not to be able to find.

Since the success of Nixon's Southern strategy, these issues have been repressed in Southern political circles.  The Confederate flag was a reminder that white backlash against black progress was just one news cycle away.  But like nuclear arms, the terror of racism has  proven too severe to actually use.    Once the world saw the savagery of Charleston, the reaction makes that threat no longer the dominant factor in deciding the future.

Our model of data-driven analysis is the path that turns those new realities into new opportunities.  We will be announcing shortly plans for sharing direct ideas in each of those states during National Black Business Month.

Bree Newsome and Tracy Sims: notes in the same freedom symphony

 





 

WHO WAS TRACY SIMS?   a great professional development opportunity for employment law practitioners, human resources professionals, educators and management studies.   7 p.m.  July 10, 2015  762 Fulton St. Tickets are $25 apiece



"I was a trained classical pianist," recalls Tamam Tracy Moncur.  She was also the first young woman in the East Bay to wear an Afro in the 1950s, says cousin Cherie Ivie.

Both parts of that preparation made her ready for the moment in history when her musical talents would propel the most successful civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Likewise, we find out that today's hero of the fallen Confederate flag, Brittany "Bree" Newsome is also a highly-accomplished musician and filmmaker.  As the South Carolina legislature voted to take the flag down, an action it couldn't avoid because Newsome did it first, we recognize that power of just being willing to answer the call.

On Friday, July 10, at 7 p.m. in the African-American Art & Culture Complex, we unveil the documentary "Who Was Tracy Sims?" in which the 18-year-old leader of the United San Francisco Freedom Movement describes how she was so feared that she was the answer on college exams before she even went to college.

In March 1964, Sims had emerged as a leader of the Ad Hoc Committee, one of the three pillars of the United San Francisco Freedom Movement with CORE and the San Francisco branch of the NAACP.   While the fiery Bill Bradley Jr., a Hastings Law student and son of an ILWU longshore activist, was elected as president of CORE and Dr. Nathaniel Burbridge, the first black tenured faculty member of UCSF, was elected president of the NAACP, Sims just sang her way into leadership.

"I didn't like a dead picket line, so I would start singing "This Little Light of Mine" and some of the other freedom songs we had heard from the South," says Moncur in Who Was Tracy Sims?   She started picketing Woolworth's in Berkeley while in high school, heard Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X on campus and became part of the W.E.B. DuBois Club.

Once the picketers forced Mel's Diner to desegregate in November 1963, a highly organized youth movement fortified by fifty years of labor activism since the 1930s and a century of black church liberation theology since the 1850s set sights on ending employment discrimination throughout the Bay Area.

Bradley, now Dr. Oba T'Shaka, professor emeritus of black studies at San Francisco State, said the focus was different in San Francisco.  "We did our research in advance, asked what the people wanted and we focused solely on jobs."

Burbridge, a professor of pharmacology, was none the less one of the most militant branch presidents in the NAACP.   He wore the Confederate flag when pictured being arrested for his demonstrations.

This mix of experience and youth managed to avoid egotism and division by dividing up targets between different groups.  Moncur's Ad Hoc Committee on Racial Discrimination went after the hotel industry.  CORE tackled grocery stores and banks and the NAACP went after car dealers.

In March 1964, Moncur told the San Francisco Call-Bulletin that she would bring 2,000 demonstrators to the Palace Hotel unless demands were met.   She carried out the promise, Mayor John Shelley negotiated a settlement desegregating all 37 hotels and the veterans of that demonstration went on to spark the Free Speech Movement at UC-Berkeley.



Facebook's Zuckerberg wrong about the facts, logic as he squirms to explain continued segregated workforce in the 21st century

 

Deputy Education Secretary Anthony Miller salutes the 2011 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology at the Lincoln Theater in Washington, D.C.

 

SAN FRANCISCO, June 27 -- Today's New York Times noted the word for word similarities in the responses of Facebook, Google and other companies to downplay the fact that they had not made any significant progress to employ more African-Americans.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg repeated the dogma that finding African-Americans is hard.  In fact, Facebook, which says it has more than a billion users, could only find seven African-Americans to hire in the past year.

The excuses are unacceptable.  In fifty years of management research, so-called voluntary "inclusion" efforts have never borne fruit.  Only rigorous regulation, particularly through government procurement, and in some cases, litigation, produces results..

Since 1998, we have published the Silicon Ceiling: Equal Opportunity and High Technology annual report to counter that dogma.     We were the first to request a Freedom of information Act for every EEO-1 form of technology companies in northern California, and our findings were presented in Congressional testimony before both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

In Silicon Ceiling 14, we found that Facebook's headquarters region actually has fewer African-American computer workers than Jefferson County, AL and East Baton Rouge Parish, LA.

Several years ago, we changed our methodology to use much more robust Bureau of Labor Statistics data on local employment dynamics than the EEO-1 forms which were watered down in the Bush administration.

Nationally, there are 36,000 African-American computer and information systems managers.     That is in line with our experience selecting the 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology every year since 1999.

There are also 50,000 computer systems analysts and 25,000 programmers, plus 60,000 software developers.

For all computer related occupations, there were 400,000 African-Americans employed in 2014 in the United States of America.

I had the opportunity to see their historical importance to the technology industry in the 1980s when I was the first African-American to edit a business newspaper  at the San Jose Business Journal, 15 years before Zuckerberg ever set foot in Silicon Valley.   Last Sunday, I interviewed Hal Walker, who operated the laser on the Apollo moon landing in 1969 from Lick Observatory in San Jose.

There has been a concerted effort to cover up their role; to deny the riches of their innovations from creating economic equity and to push the area's African-American residents to the periphery of the fast-growing industries.


In our  books, documentaries and exhibitions we have chronicled the likes of Gerald Anderson Lawson, Dr. Frank Greene, Roy Clay, Dr. Robert Lawrence Thornton,  Ron Jones, Virginia Walker, Lalita Tademy, Dr. Mark Hannah, Bill Stewart and Jim Kates.   So we have to question the competence of someone who says they can't find African-Americans in technology.

This rhetoric is much more like the massive resistance of the 1950s when misguided Southern leaders tried to  stop the end of Jim Crow.

Down to Business

John William Templeton

Award winning journalist and historian launched Black Money Worldwide in 1995 to open real-time economic information to innovators of African descent globally.  He is co-founder of National Black Business Month and creator of the 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology.  Each year, he compiles the two most important reports on African-American business; State of Black Business report and Silicon Ceiling: Equal Opportunity and High Technology.  He's been published by the New York Society of Security Analysts, AdWeek, Marketing Technology, Today's Engineer and the Oxford Encyclopedia of African-American History


Sunday, Feb. 15 (actually Feb. 17) is the date when every American has the ability to join a health insurance plan.

It is the second go-around for the Affordable Care Act.     Unlike last year, the deadline is very little mentioned in the press because it is becoming a routine feature of American life.

 In 2012, 50.4 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 74.4 percent of non-Hispanic Whites used private health insurance. Also in 2012, 40.6 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 29.3 percent of non-Hispanic Whites relied on Medicaid, public health insurance. Finally, 17.2 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 10.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured.

First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama are personally urging Americans to take advantage of the opportunity to have health insurance by this weekend.  Elected officials around the country are having enrollment fairs.


However, the actual access to care is being threatened at the same time.   As president of Venturata Economic Development Corp., I have spent the last eight months working with doctors, nurses and patients of the Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo to keep the only public hospital serving West Contra Costa County open.

One of the paradoxes of the Accountable Care Act is that funding for hospitals and health care providers has been reduced, particularly those which serve high proportions of publicly-financed health care such as Medicaid.

This hospital, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles, Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. and Brooklyn hospitals in New York City, has not been able to cover its costs based on the reimbursements received through federal and state sources.   

At the same time that patients in their communities are being encouraged to get insured, the actual places to get health care are in danger. 

This is the very situation Venturata was created to address.    Our founder, Greg Daniel, describes our mission as " Develop disruptive technologies that create new paradigms, revitalize communities, lift nations out of poverty and make the planet and all of its inhabitants healthier."  So we took on the task of revitalizing a hospital that was slated for closure last July after a parcel tax failed to win voter approval.  This weekend, we are crafting a plan for long-term profitability using the Accountable Care Organization strategy which is encouraged by the ACA with fantastic experts like Franklin Madison, Rich Chase and Michael Johnson crafting solutions.