9 of the Biggest Slave Owners in American History

Col. Joshua John Ward of Georgetown, South Carolina: 1,130 

Known as “King of the Rice Planters,” Ward had 1,130 enslaved Blacks on the Brookgreen plantation in South Carolina. In 1850, Ward controlled six large plantations and produced 3.9 million pounds of rice.

Dr. Stephen Duncan of Issaquena, Mississippi: 858
Duncan was a businessman who collectively enslaved more than 2,000 Blacks during his time as one of the best cotton producers. The most he enslaved at one time was 858 in Issaquena. Duncan owned more than 15 plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Houmas House Plantation  A.K.A.  “Sugar Palace”

John Burneside of Ascension, Louisiana: 753 

Burneside was the largest sugar producer in the country during his time at the Houmas Plantation. Before he died, he owned 10 different plantations.

Meredith Calhoun of Rapides, Louisiana: 709

Plantations belonging to Calhoun surrounded the riverboat landing that would one day become the town of Colfax. At the peak of production, the Calhoun plantations held more than 700 Blacks in slavery and produced more cotton than any other property in Louisiana. The Calhouns established one of the largest sugar mills in Louisiana, and the estate was valued in excess of $1 million in the 1860 census, a considerable holding at that time.

William Aiken of Colleton, South Carolina: 700 

Aiken was one of the state’s wealthiest citizens, owner of the largest rice plantation in the state — Jehossee Island — with over 700 enslaved Blacks on 1,500 acres under cultivation, almost twice the acreage of the next largest plantation. By 1860, Aiken owned the entire Jehossee Island, and the plantation produced 1.5 million pounds of rice in addition to sweet potatoes and corn — in the middle of the 19th century, rice was king in South Carolina — of the 10 largest cash crops in 1850, seven were rice, two cotton and one sugar. After the Civil War, the plantation regained its preeminence, producing 1.2 million pounds of rice. Today, descendants of the Aiken family, the Maybanks, still own part of the island, having sold the remainder in 1992 to the U.S. as part of the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge.

Gov. John L. Manning of Ascension, Louisiana: 670

Manning owned at least two plantations holding 670 Blacks against their will. One in South Carolina and another in Louisiana. He was a major supporter of succeeding from the Union.

Col. Joseph A. S. Acklen of West Feliciana, Louisiana: 659

As the second husband to “the mistress of Belmont” Adelicia Acklen, Joseph Acklen tripled the value of his wife’s million-dollar estate. They had seven Louisiana cotton plantations; the 2,000-acre Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin, Tennessee; more than 50,000 acres of undeveloped land in Texas; stocks and bonds; and 659 enslaved Blacks.

Gov. Robert Francis Withers Allston of Georgetown, South Carolina: 631 

His family was able to maintain two houses in Georgetown and several plantations, including the Allston ancestral home on the Pee Dee River, Chicora Wood — one of the five plantations Robert Allston owned, with over 900 acres and more than 600 enslaved Blacks.

Bonny Hall Plantation

Joseph Blake of Beaufort, South Carolina: 575 
The Blake family enslaved Black people for generations on a rice plantation in Beaufort (Prince William’s Parish). Joseph Blake had two plantations, one in Prince William’s Parish and another in St. Peter’s Parish. The former one was called Bonnie/Bonny Hall, on the Combahee River, south of the town of Yemassee, with 330 acres.

Source: 9 of the Biggest Slave Owners in American History


Doll making has been around since the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome. The first usage of dolls as toys has been documented in Greece around 100 AD. The most well-known doll makers and designers in the U.S. include Mattel, Hasbro, and others. But there also many African and African American entrepreneurs that are in the business!
Here are 7 of the top Black-owned doll makers and designers:

#1 – Trinity Designs: This Texas-based doll maker began making African American dolls in 2001. Their product line includes dolls that capture the image and character of the African American sorority sister, as well as adult, collectible dolls, which can be purchased online.

#2 – Uzuri Kid Kiz: This doll maker is based in Columbus, Ohio, and has been making dolls that reflect the African American culture since 1997. The word “uzuri” means beauty and expresses the company’s belief that all kids are beautiful, no matter what color or race they are.

#3 – Queens of Africa Dolls: This Nigerian-based company makes dolls (pictured above) and doll accessories that promote the African heritage. Their dolls have both natural and braided hair and are dressed in clothing made from African colors and prints. The dolls are available worldwide, but are especially popular in Nigeria, where they are said to be easily outselling Barbie® dolls.

#4 – Tonner-One World DollsThis company’s slogan is “We are pretty girls, and we rule the world.” Founders Trent T. Daniel and Stacey McBride-Irby (who  former designed Barbie® dolls for Mattel) created a multi-cultural line of girl dolls in 2010 to fill a gap in diverse representation in the doll industry. They are based in Houston, Texas.

#5 – Double Dutch DollsDouble Dutch Dolls designs and produces a line of multi-cultural dolls, books, and accessories for girls ages 8 and up. The dolls are African-American, Hispanic, Biracial and Multiracial. The company was founded in 2013 and is based in Marietta, Georgia.

#6 – Positively Perfect Dolls: The company was founded in 2010 by a mom and former professor as a way to encourage young girls. The dolls, which are available in local Target and Walmart stores, are designed to “encourage dreams, promote intelligence, challenge perceptions, and open hearts to all types of beauty.”

#7 – EthiDolls: This company makes authentic, collectible African-American signature dolls and accessories that embrace African heritage, culture, and history. The company was founded in 2003 by two women Ethiopian entrepreneurs from the New York City area. Their goal was to develop a line of culturally authentic and unique Signature Dolls and Accessories that teach history and celebrate cultural diversity.

Black doll enthusiasts are also encouraged to visit The National Black Doll Museum in Mansfield, Massachusetts. The museum was founded in 2012 and is the first museum in New England and the second museum in the nation dedicated to preserving the history of black dolls. For more information, visit www.nbdmhc.org



A billion-dollar industry, a racist legacy: being black and growing pot in America

Three years ago, Jesce Horton, a former engineer in his early 30s, quit his corporate job to set up his own small, family-owned cannabis cultivation business in Portland, Oregon.

Horton is part of a nascent industry thatnetted $6.7bn last year and is projected toreach $50bn by 2026. And as one of the few black business owners in an industry whose legality varies by location, he stands out.

“I guess how I dress is hip-hop hipster. I have my Jordans, but I also have my beard and a Portland hat,” Horton says with a chuckle when asked to describe himself.

Horton’s parents were at first lukewarm about his plan to sell a substance associated with decades of systematic imprisonment that have devastated communities of color. But the young entrepreneur sees the partial legalization of cannabis as an opportunity not just for business, but to acknowledge past wrongdoing and seek economic justice.

There is an obvious chasm between the number of people of color who have been jailed for simple possession during the “war on drugs” and the number of white men who are starting to make millions in profit from the industry. Formal statistics do not exist, but first-hand accounts and reports confirm that cannabis entrepreneurs are overwhelmingly white. Last year, aninvestigation by Buzzfeed estimated that less than 1% of cannabis dispensary owners across the country were black.

Solutions are now being explored through reparations – mainly in the form of measures addressing this imbalance.

For the first time, policy and local pieces of concrete legislation in cities including Oakland, California, and Portland, Oregon, encourage participation in the regulated marijuana industry by communities of color, or reinvestment into these communities.

These quiet, small steps towards justice are nothing short of revolutionary.

A white man’s industry: $710,000 for a license

 Jesce Horton: ‘This business has been family from the start’. Photograph: Jesce Horton

Horton is proud to live in Portland, he says, for it is the first US city to vote to dedicate a portion of its recreational cannabis tax revenue towards investment into “communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition”.

Beyond investing in businesses and training, the fund will also partly finance the expungement of cannabis convictions.

Such policies, reparative in ambition and nature, recognize that the current playing field was historically set up to be inequitable. Cannabis culture may be open in ethos, but so far, with few exceptions, the industry has proven itself glacier white.

Horton and fellow advocates offer three reasons for this.

One, most states have barred anyone with a criminal record from entering the industry. The US is home to an estimated 70 million Americans with criminal records, and adisproportionate number of those are men of color (according to a Pew Research Centerstudy in 2013, black men were six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men).

Two, by varying degrees, depending on the state, the economic barriers to entering the industry (application fees, license fees and startup fees) are extortionately high.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, where medical cannabis was legalized last year, only a small handful of licenses were set to be given out. Wannabe growers were required to pay a $10,000 non-refundable application fee, together with a $200,000 deposit. They also had to provie proof of $2m in funding, with at least $500,000 in the bank.

(Oregon, where Horton lives, is an outlier. Barriers of entry there are low, with number of licenses granted limitless, application fees at $250, and yearly licenses never exceeding the $6,000 mark.)

Banks, still jumpy from federal prohibition, are not lending. Application numbers are also vastly restrictive and rely on opaque selection processes, in which connections are important. This means applicants with personal wealth or access to networks of wealth are at a high advantage. In a still segregated America, the median American white family is 13 times wealthier than the median black family, and 10 times wealthier than the median Hispanic family.

Three, even where there are funds to be sourced, communities of color are often loath to take a chance on openly doing business with a drug they have seen too many of their kin targeted, criminalized and locked up over.

“Unless measures are taken to recognize and reconcile the harm done by the war on drugs, unless we reach out to communities of color to include them, communities will see legal cannabis as a slap in the face and won’t use it,” Horton says.

To change that, Horton spends a large portion of his time trying to uplift current and would-be cannabis entrepreneurs of color. He does this through a Minority Cannabis Business Association, which he heads, and by advocating for laws that get to the roots of why communities of color have been excluded from the industry.

A place for every color, race and creed

Legacy weighs heavily on Horton, and not simply because he just welcomed his first child.

Horton’s father was sent to prison as a young man on cannabis-related charges. After serving his sentence, he found work as a janitor at a large corporation, where he slowly worked his way up through the ranks, retiring as a vice-president.

Horton was himself also arrested and charged for minor cannabis possession three times, but he says he lucked out. “I was able to get out of the criminal justice system with little,” he says. Friends were less fortunate, and some of them are still behind bars because of the drug.

Eventually, seeing his seriousness, Horton’s parents came around to his business plan. Part of the seed money came from his parents and their fellow retired friends.

 Horton (right), his employee Linda, and his cousin, who also works for the business. Photograph: Jesce Horton

Horton’s medical cannabis company originally served eight patients, selling off the rest of his modest crop to dispensaries. He is now preparing to launch a much larger all-purpose facility, which will grow, sell and provide space to safely consume weed on a three-acre piece of property, formerly an auto wrecking ground.

“It’s been family from the start. My mom and my dad even came and helped with the first harvest.”

For years, Horton’s two full-time employees were his cousin, who moved from North Carolina to work with him, and a woman named Linda. She serendipitously landed with the company after she lost her job. She’s in her 60s, and the only white person of the trio. She has recently been diagnosed with cancer, so Horton has set to work trying to develop a cannabis strand to help her deal with the illness.

“We are a bit like the Brady bunch,” Horton offers. “It’s the best of cannabis culture. The idea that there is a place for every single color, race, creed. At this point, I don’t have a lot, but I am passionate. I feel like I have a short window of opportunity to put my son in a better position, build a better position for my family and my community – for people of color.”

Horton doesn’t want to be the exception to the rule, either. It doesn’t seem right, and it doesn’t seem fair, especially since the depiction of cannabis and the depiction of race have been intertwined from the get-go.

For instance, the original federal document outlawing cannabis in 1937 employed “marihuana”, a Hispanic slang term, that until then was not the most common term for the plant. Accounts have suggested it was chosen to make the drug instantly associable with Mexicans, or non-white people.

While studies have shown that cannabis consumption is similar in terms of percentage across races, black and brown people are far more likely to be arrested for both distribution and simple possession of the drug in the US – about four times on average nationwide.

After successive presidents embraced a “war on drugs” starting in the 1970s, portraying drugs, including cannabis, as the root of evil, the prison population ballooned at an astonishing rate. Today, with 2.3 million people locked up domestically, the US is the world’s largest incarcerator.

In an in-depth analysis on the subject, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that over the course of the first decade of the 21st century, even as cannabis legalization was beginning to take hold, cannabis arrests increased, rather than the opposite. The study recorded 8m marijuana arrests across the country, 88% of which were for possession alone.

‘This is a moment in time that we may never see again’

Oakland, California, has offered perhaps the most groundbreaking laws to date addressing the issue.

A recent city-commissioned report spoke in stark and harsh terms of, on one hand, the existence of mostly white medical cannabis businesses, and on the other a cracking down on black and brown community members for cannabis possession and distribution.

Oakland is about one-third black, one-third white and one-third Hispanic, but cannabis-related arrests in Oakland in 2015 involved black people in 77% of cases, and people of color in about 95% of cases.

White people represented 4% of cases.

At the end of March this year, following the release of the report, Oakland’s city councilvoted on a set of regulatory measures for medical cannabis dispensaries in what is referred to as an equity permit program.

Its scope, ambition and framing are unprecedented.

 Christina, one of Jesce Horton’s former employees, at work. Photograph: Jesce Horton

Under new rules, at least half of new cannabis business permit holders, issued by the city at a maximum rate of eight a year, will have to go to “equity applicants”. Applicants must earn less than 80% of the city’s median income; and they must either have been residents of police beats disproportionately targeted by law enforcement in recent decades, or they must have been sent to prison on cannabis charges within the last 20 years.

“Non-equity” applicants not fitting this criteria will be given priority for the other half of permits available if they incorporate helping equity applicants with free rent or real estate.

“Honestly, I think this is a moment in time that we may never see again,” Oakland’s vice-mayor, Annie Campbell Washington, said during a council meeting. “We have the ability to right the wrongs of structural racism so directly and try to level the playing field and benefit the actual group of people who were harmed.”

To the north, Portland, Oregon, is the first city to direct part of its cannabis revenue taxes towards reinvestment into communities of color. Los Angeles and San Francisco are seeking to implement similar policies.

Massachusetts, which voted to make cannabis legal for recreational use at the end of last year, is the first state to include a section of the law which requires the participation of communities criminalized and economically crippled during the “war on drugs”.

While details are still being smoothed out, the text of the law is extraordinary in that it creates a link between a formerly criminalized population and the new industry. There is no formal apology or admission of wrongdoing, but it is not a stretch to see the wording as a recognition of people being owed something, and between the lines, the need for repair.

Massachusetts is also the first state not to bar former convicted felons from operating in and around the industry.

Meanwhile, California’s new adult use law, which also passed last November, requires a portion of the taxes collected from cannabis businesses to be re-invested into “communities disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policies.”

Much of this may seem utopian, or at least unrealistic. Steps for reparations, which, in the American context, most often refer to a call to pay damage to the descendants of slaves violently brought from Africa for the purpose of multi-generational labor exploitation, have repeatedly gone nowhere.

But these measures could mark the first time an explicit form of reparations takes hold in this country.

Jeff Sessions: ‘Good people don’t smoke marijuana’

Of course, at a federal level, cannabis remains illegal. In fact, it is classified as a Schedule I drug, which means the federal government sees the drug as having no medical benefit whatsoever. This marks it as more dangerous than Schedule II drugs, which include opioids, meth, and cocaine, among others.

Starting in 2013, under Barack Obama, a “Cole memo” unofficially agreed to exercise discretion and turn a blind eye on in-state legal cannabis activities, so long as those states enforced “strong and effective” regulation.

But Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has called for renewed efforts in combatting drugs, which he has described uniformly as “bad”. In 1996, the Alabama Lawyer reported that Sessions, then Alabama attorney general, had introduced a package of crime bills for the state to “fix a broken system”. One of those bills sought to impose the death penalty as a mandatory minimum sentence for second time offenders of the state’s anti-drug trafficking law. Trafficking charges included non-violent cannabis charges.

The crime bill did not pass, and at his federal confirmation hearings this January, Sessionssaid that such measures were “not his view today”. But as recently as last year, Sessions was emphatic that he believed cannabis was “dangerous” and “damaging”, repeatedly calling during a Senate hearing on the matter for federal law to be enforced.

“Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” hesaid.

This could prove worrying for cannabis entrepreneurs but even more so for communities of color, for whom the business of cannabis has never ceased to be equated with the risk of imprisonment.

Ezekiel Edwards, the director of the Criminal Law Reform Project at the ACLU, warns Sessions is “a drug warrior of the first order”. He says Sessions would not be reviving a war on drugs, only re-escalating one that never went away.

“Even after marijuana legalization, we continue to fight a drug war in communities of color. Arrests are still being done, including in states where legalization has taken place, and still disproportionately in communities of color. That war is not over,” Edwards says.

Lynne Lyman, the state director for the California branch of the Drug Policy Alliance, who helped successfully get recreational cannabis legalized duringNovember’s elections, says that a large part of her work is what she calls “anti-stigma work”.

Anti-stigma work involves making people who use and sell drugs be seen as people first.

For cannabis entrepreneurs, this means no longer treating black sellers of cannabis as dangerous “dealers” to be incarcerated, and white sellers of cannabis as exciting, legitimate trailblazers, with the laudable American flair for risk.

Confronting that stigma takes you to the core of it all.

Source: A billion-dollar industry, a racist legacy: being black and growing pot in America

How Gentrification Is Undermining the Notion of Black Community and Destroying Black Businesses

Bedstuy is one of the communities that have been significantly changed by gentrification. (Courtesy: Wikimedia)

Lori Shepherd is an African-American small-business owner in Oakland, Calif. Shepherd’s story is becoming an increasingly familiar one for urban Blacks.

“Due to Uber’s decision to move within two blocks of my shared office space, and the construction and limited parking, I’ve had to change up significantly how I work,” Shepherd said. “Instead of always working at my shared space, I have switched to working at a local Black-owned cafe. Unfortunately, last month, they were given an eviction notice from outside contractors, and now even that space is gone.

“The impact for me has been profound in terms of how I work and where.”

For decades, Oakland has been the fount of Black culture in the West. The founding hub of the Black Panther Party and the hometown of Celtics great Bill Russell, former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson and the Pointer Sisters, the once-majority-Black city has lost nearly 25 percent of its Black residents from 2000 to 2010, according to the U.S. Census. While this is, in part, due to the relaxing of previous barriers to integration in other areas and to class promotion within the Black community, this phenomenon can also be blamed on gentrification, or the intentional or unintentional pushing out of residents in a community through improvements to the infrastructure.

The sum of this is the slow decay of the urban African-American community as it is known today. “In terms of gentrification, this occurrence has been fierce with the vast loss of the African-American population, businesses and presence,” Shepherd added. “It is more than disheartening. To put this in perspective, imagine Atlanta losing 60 percent or more of its Black population to white newcomers who have no respect for the existing culture or Black presence.”

“For example, here in Oakland gentrification has been evidenced by white people who’ve moved next door to churches with a long history in the city. These churches have over 50 years of presence, only to find their new neighbors having the audacity to complain to City Council about noise, simply because of choir practice.

“The soul has shifted to hardly any soul at all.”

Gentrification and Black Businesses

In a 2014 speech, Spike Lee took aim at the rash of gentrification in New York, which has seemed to redefine Black communities wholesale. “[Why] did it take this great influx of white people to get the schools better? Why’s there more police protection in Bed-Stuy and Harlem now? Why’s the garbage getting picked up more regularly? We been here!” Lee exclaimed.

“[You’re] talking about the people’s property change? But what about the people who are renting? They can’t afford it anymore! You can’t afford it. People want to live in Fort Greene. People wanna live in Clinton Hill. The Lower East Side, they move to Williamsburg, they can’t even afford f***in’, motherf***in’ Williamsburg now because of motherf***in’ hipsters.”

On 125th Street, for example, large white-owned “big box” stores are appearing where only a decade or two before, Black-owned “mom & pop” stores stood. For many, gentrification has razed the Harlem they knew and replaced it with one distinctly less Black.

Gentrification typically happens when infrastructure or material changes to a neighborhood reach a point that the neighborhood is now attractive to residents of a higher class than that of the residents of the neighborhood. This can happen in multiple ways. In the case of Harlem, which was the capital of Black America and the home of the Black Intelligentsia, it was tax abatement and a change of zoning laws that opened up the enclave to “urban pioneers,” young whites that chose to reject suburbia and return to the city.

As a population with more disposable income moves in, property owners respond by improving their properties in the neighborhood to attract the new tenants and by raising prices on leases and rent. This, in effect, causes a squeeze-out; the residents that already live in the neighborhoods cannot afford the rising rents, forcing them to leave homes they and their families have lived in for decades.

For traditional Black businesses, the effect of this can be twofold. First, many Black businesses in gentrified areas find their leases to be illegally broken or challenged by property owners desperate to cash in. Second, those that could somehow hold on to their leases now face a customer base radically different from what they previously had that may be at odds to the products being served, increased competition and a raise in price for key services.

This has led to 30 percent of all Black-owned businesses disappearing in New York City from 2007 and 2017. Per a report by BuzzFeed, of the 25 largest cities in the United States, only Detroit and Jacksonville, Fla., have comparable numbers.

“When Black-owned businesses decline, I’m alarmed. When local residents are priced out of their neighborhoods, I’m frustrated. We have to do better,” New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer told BuzzFeed News. “We need to focus on real, community-level wealth creation. When we talk about gentrification, we can’t just focus on rising rents or increased cost of living. We also need to ensure that local residents gain access to new, local jobs.”

In New York City, African-Americans are 22 percent of the population but only 3 percent of the local business owners. A reason for the decline may be the declining Black population in the city.

Syracuse, N.Y., has endured aggressive gentrification that has had the net result of leaving the city’s core highly impoverished. (Courtesy: Wikimedia)

Syracuse and Gentrification Unchecked

Many of the traditional African-American neighborhoods that are now being gentrified or have been gentrified were, in reality, the result of aggressive racial policies and racially motivated migration patterns.

Syracuse sits in the geographic center of New York State. The city has been an important transportation hub for most of the nation’s history, with the Erie Canal being dug primarily to simplify the transferring of Syracuse salt to New York City and to the Mississippi River basin. This ready positioning made the city and its metropolitan area an industrial juggernaut in the earlier part of the 20th century and a higher-education leader in the later part, hosting more than 10 major universities and colleges within an hour’s drive of the city, including Colgate, Cornell and Syracuse universities.

Syracuse also has the distinction of being the American major city with the highest rate of extreme poverty concentrated among Blacks and Hispanics, per the Century Foundation and the U.S. Census’s American Community Survey. This concentrated poverty — the sense of being poor and growing up around other people that are poor — creates a sense of desolation: a lack of critical infrastructure such as supermarkets, more violence, declining graduation and college matriculation rates and less possibility of class promotion from generation to generation.

“Nationwide, the number of high-poverty neighborhoods and the population living in them has risen at an alarming pace. After declining by more than one-fourth, from 3,417 to 2,510 between 1990 and 2000, the number of high-poverty census tracts has risen steadily,” Paul Jargowsky wrote for the Century Foundation. “In the 2005–09 ACS data, before the financial crisis took hold, high-poverty census tracts increased by nearly one-third, to 3,310 — nearly matching the 1990 figure. By 2009–13, an additional 1,100 tracts had poverty rates of 40 percent or more, bringing the total to 4,412. The overall increase in high-poverty census tracts since 2000 was 76 percent.”

A key component to Syracuse’s plight is the lack of Black-owned businesses. Areas such as the Upper Valley, which are predominately Black, have seen a steep bleed off of nonwhite-owned businesses since 1969, when the city ranked 72nd in poverty among the nation’s largest cities.

Syracuse fell victim to gentrification run amok. In the city’s earliest years, it celebrated a growth rate that exceeded that of even New York City. However, various factors, including the discovery of salt in Louisiana and Utah, slowed growth until it was nearly stagnant by World War II. As Southern Blacks settled into the area around the 15th Ward, many of the city’s white residents headed for the suburbs. This gave the Black-populated areas the designation of “slum lands” to property developers, as it had a collapsing real estate value.

“Racial barriers have created an overcrowded condition that many experts felt may someday lead to troubles,” the Syracuse Post-Standard reported in 1954.

Exploiting this weakened view on the Black neighborhoods and hoping that taking definitive action could restart the growth rate and make Syracuse one of the largest cities in the nation, Syracuse destroyed the 15th Ward in 1956 and erected the I-81 Downtown Bridge, an elevated freeway that bisects downtown Syracuse and the Upper Valley. This destroyed the tightly held Black city community without much interference from the city’s leadership; the city was willing to do whatever state and federal officials asked to secure funding.

The sum effect was to push the Black population from the near downtown into the Southside, encouraging white flight. The very highway that was envisioned to bring residents into the city core would allow for residents to work in the city but live outside of it. The city’s population dropped from approximately 221,000 in 1950 to 144,000 as of 2014. Over the same timescale, the Black population increased tenfold.

Redlining, or the marking off of areas where African-Americans could not get home loans, made property ownership less of a possibility for Black residents, as did rental bans in specific neighborhoods. Worse, the white flight to the suburbs encouraged development around the city instead of in it. Despite the population of Onondaga County, where Syracuse is its county seat, not increasing since the 1970s, the county has seen 61 miles of new road development since 1961, 7,000 new housing units since 2000 and 12,500 acres added to the sanitary district.

A Population Displaced

While Syracuse is an example of reverse gentrification or the implementation of infrastructure improvements with the ultimate result of collapsing the social order, the impetus that led to Syracuse’s decision to willingly bisect its own communities exists in cities throughout the nation. Cities are motivated to increase their tax rolls, which will make it easier to pay for needed infrastructure repairs and social services. To do this, they must both increase their populations and bring in more affluent populations, which would drive commercial growth.

Gentrified growth tends to have adverse side effects, however. Many of the suburbs that popped up around Syracuse after the creation of the I-81/I-690 intersection developed anti-poor zoning policies. Skaneateles, one of the wealthier of the Syracuse suburbs, for example, allows no multifamily dwellings with more than four units per acre.

While the county has committed to expand county infrastructure no farther than where it already is and is participating with the city in bringing new employers into the core and promoting the Say Yes to Education program, which provides at least three years of free college tuition to Syracuse City District’s high school students, undoing the effects of gentrification may be difficult.

“The economic development in the 21st century in the world is centered in cities because of the concentration of intellectual energy that you have,” Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said to The Atlantic. “You can’t have a thriving suburb without having a thriving city.”

Not every city is like Syracuse, however. Typically, gentrification is a slower, less-dramatic event that happens resident by resident, property by property.  In Portland, Ore., for example, the rising popularity of Portland among hipsters created a tide of rising housing prices and de facto redlining that drove the city’s Black community out of historical neighborhoods and toward the fringes and the suburbs. With an average rent increase of 20 percent, this decidedly unfussy artist enclave is steadily becoming available only to the wealthy. Even the early “urban pioneers” that started the gentrification craze in Portland have been priced out.

This stings all the more in light of Portland’s history of racial exclusion. “If Portland is trying to be this model of sustainable, livable, walkable, 20-minute cities and it’s not racially diverse and it’s not class diverse, we’ve got big problems about what that means for anywhere else,” Lisa Bates, a professor of urban planning at Portland State University, said to Colorlines. “Is it only viable to use public resources to create a favorable environment if you get rid of all the undesirable people?”

In Detroit, the gentrification of the city core has created strident arguments over if the push to make Detroit economically solvent is disenfranchising the poor. The purchase of neglected buildings in the city’s former Cass Corridor to turn into luxury apartments and high-end retailers created a situation where there is an affluent core in the city, but everything around that core is still facing racial and socioeconomic disparities. As noted by the Guardian, residents living just outside the core are making 25 percent less than those in the core, with more than 150,000 building vacant or abandoned.

New Realities

A reality of modern-day life is that gentrification will happen. Young white professionals have rejected the notions of suburbanism and white flight and are returning to the cities in increasing numbers. It is now on city planners to find a way to make this work. The way forward is not to carve out new enclaves for the affluent in the cities or to allow displacement of the existing populace, but to find ways to promote heterogeneous communities and to encourage infrastructure improvements without raising property costs.

“Gentrification is not necessarily a bad thing, but the way in which it often occurs is, because it typically leads to displacement,” Derek Hyra, professor at American University and author of “Race, Class and Politics in Cappuccino City,’ said. “In America, we are really good at developing places instead of people in places. When investments come in to benefit areas of concentrated poverty where the people can stay in place, then the investments are a good thing. However, gentrification as a means to poverty displacement, instead of poverty relief, is destructive.”

Hyra pointed out that, even for those who are not economically displaced by gentrification, social and political displacement can still occur. As a community increasingly changes its populace, it changes its personality. What was once a vibrant Black community ceases to be in light of its Black residents and businesses being driven to other markets and other communities, only to become something else.

As many African-Americans were driven to these neighborhoods because of aggressive racial policies and economic disenfranchisement, being forced out of them now seems unnecessarily cruel. For those that are left due to subsidized housing or other means, what they are left with may be as alien and foreboding as being forced to live in a new neighborhood.

The road forward to closing the attainment gap is to increase the number of Black business and homeowners. With Black homeownership rates from 2013 to 2017 being 42.7 percent, compared to 71.8 percent for white homeowners and with just 2.1 percent of all American businesses being Black-owned, efforts must be made to bring African-Americans to the table and not to push them away.

However, as many cities have yet to fully recover from the Great Recession and as the federal government plans major rollbacks to funding to minority business development, the goal of encouraging and protecting Black businesses in the inner city may be a difficult one to achieve.

“There is a gentrification wave that has taken over the nation as we come off the Great Recession, and for the first time, it is hitting Black neighborhoods,” Hyra added. “Usually, urban investment completely bypasses Black communities, but not this time. This will bring property values up. However, the question of how to safeguard the community’s identity must be considered. These neighborhoods were the safe havens of the Black community during times of strife and great violence.

“They deserve to be saved.”

Source: How Gentrification Is Undermining the Notion of Black Community and Destroying Black Businesses 

How Seeds of Fortune Creates Economic Empowerment Opportunities for Young Women of Color

As a high school senior, Nitiya Walker, was met with a challenge that many students face—”I have dreams of getting a college education, but I can’t afford it.” 

Seeds of Fortune

The Seeds of Fortune team (Image: Seeds of Fortune)

“I met a young lady who earned $150,000 in scholarships to Spelman College. Her mom assisted her, so I asked her mother to work with me. She helped me win $250,000 in scholarships. I thought to myself “What if I never met the young lady in my Girl Scout troop?” It sparked a desire to want to help other girls gain access to free money. From this experience, Seeds of Fortune was born.

Seeds of Fortune is a scholarship program focused on creating the next generation of financially empowered young women of color. With more than 40 young women enrolled in the program, scholars have garnered $6 million in scholarship offers from top universities across the country and accepted more than $1 million in scholarship offers.

Black Enterprise: When it comes to being successful, what do you think is the most undervalued skill? 

Nitiya Walker: The ability for people to communicate their story and decisions behind their future goals and dreams. We help our scholars prep for interviews as well as intensive college essay development so they can share their stories with stakeholders. We also teach them critical thinking skills. This helps them decide which colleges are more cost effective, the career paths that align with their interest, and how money can be used as a tool to make it happen.

BE: Why did you decide to include an entrepreneurship component to your program?

NW: Entrepreneurship is the No. 1 way to build wealth in America. It is the third pillar of our values, as we believe that young women of color should be able to control their destiny and use their resources to create opportunities for themselves.

BE: Can you share one piece of advice to financially empower young women?

NW: It’s important to build savings, as savings brings security, and it will help to start your investment capital. In turn, investments build wealth. Also,

  • Pay yourself first. Then divide your accounts between a short-term savings account and a long-term savings account.
  • Select a second savings account that is difficult to access like credit unions, small banks, or digital banks.

Source: How Seeds of Fortune Creates Economic Empowerment Opportunities for Young Women of Color 

Successful Black Business Owner Seeks to Pay It Forward with Six-City Franchise Contest Worth $3 Million Dollars

Donnie P., the founder of A Caring Home Services

You never know who you’ll find generating ways to share opportunities for others.

Take Donnie P., the founder and operator A Caring Home Services franchises in several locations. This week in Atlanta, he’s offering a lucrative franchise opportunity through his Caring Franchise Contest 2017. To one savvy local entrepreneur, Donnie will give away a franchise business, to own and operate, entirely free of franchise-purchase cost. In addition to Atlanta, he is offering the same opportunity to people in Memphis, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston and Austin. In all, six people in six cities will receive a franchise business free of cost, at a value totaling close to $3 million.

“If this contest seems to favor only the Southern region of the U.S., that would be partially true,” Donnie says. “The fact is that, as a Houston native, I wanted to expand my brand from our Houston location and to include Atlanta, Memphis, New Orleans, Dallas, Austin and another franchise in Houston, to our network. I love the idea of hosting our contest as it will help us expand and identify six outstanding entrepreneurs to offer franchises.”

The A Caring Franchise Contest 2017 selection criteria encompass a variety of factors that suggest contestants ability to create a successful, thriving business. It also gives the six winners a real shot at franchise ownership, whether or not they can afford to buy one. For Donnie, creating the kind of business success that supports giving away six lucrative franchise businesses to deserving future owners has been an arduous journey.

Donnie purchased his first franchise business in 2013. His parents had always instilled in him the notion of “never working for anyone who can control your destiny,” implanting that idea moved Donnie toward his entrepreneurial future.

Before his purchase Donnie  like many young people struggled to find his way. As he wa becoming a young adult his father casually explained that he’d no longer be able to provide him with financial support. With five other siblings still in school and looking to go to college, his father needed to spread support to them, too. With more than a year left before graduation, Donnie was unclear how to proceed, but he prayed intensely for guidance. Somehow, he’d have to figure out how to support himself and do it quickly. But, as the initial feelings of fear faded, a sense of hope emerged, presenting a true turning point.

“Over time, it was becoming evident that I would be perfectly fine as long as I maintained a strong faith in my ability,” Donnie said. “The more I believed I’d be OK, the more I’d explore and find opportunities that made if possible to stay afloat.”

“It’s been this core belief and my willingness to make mistakes and try again that has shaped my business and my approach to entrepreneurship” he continued. “More than anything, it was my father who first presented me with a challenge, and, yet, it was this challenge and working through it [that] forced me to reach deep within myself to succeed and fail; succeed again and keep going.”

After graduating from college and starting various businesses with very little start-up capital, Donnie made his way to A Caring Home services and found a career in the franchise industry. Before long, he had built the business into a profitable endeavor offering consumers access to elder care, food preparation, house cleaning and other high-quality, vital services.

Donnie later authored a book, “How to Catch A Mouse, With No Cheese,” outlining advice and tips from an entrepreneurial perspective.

“Without a doubt, it has taken me strength and perseverance, and many failures, to reach the success I’m experiencing as a franchisor,” Donnie said, “and I am motivated to bring on six new business owners to grow success even further.”

Source: Successful Business Owner Seeks to Pay It Forward with Six-City Franchise Contest Worth $3 Million Dollars 

African Women Software Developers Pursue $500 Billion Black Haircare Industry


Entrepreneurs Plan Launch of Hairstyle Inspiration App at Lagos Social Media Week Lagos, Nigeria

Tress is a fun, passionate community of Black women from around the world sharing and discovering new hairstyles through our Android mobile app.

After piloting the app with hundreds of women in Accra (Ghana), the Tress Android app will be launching officially on February 25th at Lagos Social Media Week during the Beauty of Tech panel.

The global Black hair care industry is valued at over $500 billion, and we’re excited to be building Africa’s first social app that taps into this massive opportunity. Tress is built by three women software entrepreneurs from Ghana and Nigeria who’re excited to be solving problems they feel keenly every single day.

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Nearly half of young black men in Chicago out of work, out of school: report


Angelo Ross, 18, center, attends a hearing about teen joblessness in Chicago in 2015. Ross was at risk of losing his internship at a restaurant.

Nearly half of young black men in Chicago are neither in school nor working, far exceeding the share nationally and in comparable big cities, according to a new report.

Forty-seven percent of 20- to 24-year-old black men in Chicago, and 44 percent in Illinois, were out of school and out of work in 2014, according to the report from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute that was commissioned by the Alternative Schools Network.

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How France Financially Enslaves 14 Afrikan Countries

The West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) is an organization of eight West African states. It was established to promote economic integration among countries that share the Communauté Financière d’Afrique (CFA) franc as a common currency. The currency is issued by the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO), located in Dakar, Senegal, for the members of the UEMOA. The union administers the West African CFA franc, now a Euro-pegged currency that is used in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

UEMOA was created by a Treaty signed in Dakar on 10 January 1994, by the heads of state and governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. On 2 May 1997, Guinea-Bissau became the organisation’s eighth (and only non-Francophone) member state.

On 20 January 2011, the UEMOA announced that it was drafting a code that will state how member states can negotiate investments with China, as reported by the Dakar-based newspaper Sud Quotidien, citing the union’s commissioner, Joseph Marie Dabré. The report said that the code would require Chinese state companies to receive approval from the Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso-based union before investing in any of the zone’s eight individual states. Mining agreements between China and countries in the union would fall under the terms of the code, according to Sud Quotidien.

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14 African Countries Forced by France to Pay Colonial Tax For the Benefits of Slavery and Colonization


Did you know many African countries continue to pay colonial tax to France since their independence till today!

When Sékou Touré of Guinea decided in 1958 to get out of french colonial empire, and opted for the country independence, the french colonial elite in Paris got so furious, and in a historic act of fury the french administration in Guinea destroyed everything in the country which represented what they called the benefits from french colonization.

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$59.624 Trillion (What Black People are Owed for Reparations for $5 Billion, Alex)


A few days ago I ran across an article online where a teacher (http://activistteacher.blogspot.ca/2013/01/calculated-minimum-reparation-due-to.html?m=1) decided to do the math behind what black people would be owed if we got reparations adjusted for todays minimum wage values. He did his numbers based solely on a minimal economic value of free slave labor adjusted at the lowest reasonable rate of interest.

The number he came up with was $1.5 million dollars for every Black person in this country that descended from a enslaved ancestor, which is roughly, wait for it…………… $59.2 trillion dollars.  Yep approximately $60 trillion in reparations is owed to blacks in America and this is based off minimum values. This is why Congress will never seriously talk about reparations in a meaningful way.

Crazy isn’t it!

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