17th Rainbow Push Wall Street Initiative Celebrates 50 years after the Civil Rights act and the 30th Anniversary of Jesse Jackson's run for the Presidency: Where are we now?

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Rev. Jesse Jackson Founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Wall Street Project Economic Summit

 I know, many of you are looking at your calendars and saying, "February 11th?  But isn't the Wall Street Project held in January?"  And you would be correct.  I queried the reason for this month's delay myself and found it coincided with Black History Month and the Commemoration of the Civil Rights Bill signed into law by President Lyndon Baynes Johnson (LBJ).   So, Tuesday, February 11th through Thursday, February 13th, the focus on where we are and where we need to be, and how to get there. 

The actual title of this year's Wall Street Project Economic Summit is “50 Years after The Civil Rights Act:  The Unfinished Agenda for Economic Justice”  THE NEED TO CONTINUE THE FIGHT FOR  ECONOMIC JUSTICE & PARITY

And for those of you who were not aware of it, there is still a "need to continue the fight for economic justice - a fight which Rev. Jackson  actually started nearly 25 years ago, long before he formalized it into the Wall Street Project. While Dr. King also recognized the fact that there was a need for economic justice, Rev. Jackson the first to put together a formalized civil rights program to focus on eradicating economic disadvantages as a form of racism.

Rev. Jackson founded the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to be a progressive organization protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity.  Seventeen years ago he likewise established the Wall Street Project Economic Summit, which was originally held at the World Trade Center, and in the various centers of Wall Street.  However, subsequent to the devastating attack on 9/11, the Conference has been held in Mid-Town Manhattan.  

In a recent interview with Rev. Jackson, he touched on the point that, while we're politically more aware than ever, we have not parlayed that into economic advantages.  And, under the present circumstances, "the right wing never really went away, so we have to be firmer in our resolve to realize our piece of the economic pie."

I will admit to being an unabashed "fan" of Rev. Jackson.  By "fan" I mean admirer, supporter, respecter.   I've watched the wisdom, insight, courage he has displayed consistently over the past fifty-plus years, and recognize that within the current realm of those who have stood for us as people - good times, bad times, thick or thin; always seeking innovative ways to bring the truth to us, and bring us to the economic just we deserve, there is absolutely no one else.  We as a people owe him a huge debt of gratitude for staying the course for more than fifty years.

It was 30 years ago that Rev. Jackson ran for the office of President of the United States.  The year was 1984, and he came third on the balloting in the Democratic National Convention.  He ran again in 1988, and again came very close to capturing the nomination to run for President.   Today, his focus is on ensuring that, to the extent possible, Black people, regardless of their economic level, are full participants in the bounty this country consistently realizes.  Moving us from the margins to the middle.  Moving us from poverty to parity and prosperity.  His message was compelling thirty years ago, and is even more relevant in today's world and economy.  

Jesse Jackson for President in 1984

Jesse Jackson with President Barack Obama
That said, you can look for him to uptick his intensity.  This is 2014 and we have so much at stake - this is a pivotal election year.  We not only have to defeat the repuglycons who have been instrumental in decimating the voting rights act; but we also have to make decisive moves in the realm of regaining what was "lost" (actually stolen) during the Bush era.  

According to Rev. Jackson,"For more than 50 years, Black Americans have increased their buying power from $37 Billion to over a Trillion dollars.  But, our consumerism has not translated into a fair share of contracts and jobs with corporate America" {or anywhere else for that matter}  He stated:  “The assault on African American Businesses has been devastating.  While the general economy is enjoying a steady boost, we are losing record numbers of businesses. Income inequality is a growing concern and the financial crisis didn’t help.  In the U. S., the wealthiest 1% grabbed 95% of the post 2009 growth and the bottom 90% became poorer. While financial transactions are of particular interest to the Wall Street Project there is increasing concern generally about lack of opportunity.

While the focus is on Black businesses and economic parity in America, Rev. Jackson is cognizant that Black people are suffering and being short changed throughout the world.  So he is binging together leaders in political, corporate, entrepreneurial, and tangential industries to the ECONOMIC SUMMIT, to discuss and work out solutions to the economic incongruity, that particularly impact men and women of African heritage.  

Of particular interest will be the summit involving US Agriculture secretary and the various agricultural secretaries from several African countries, who will be discussing the opportunities of investment, ending hunger, the threat of GMO's etc.

 Key issues to be focused on are the decline in Black businesses:
  • Black-owned auto dealerships took a pounding during the recent recession, dropping from over 500 in 2008 to 200 today. 
  • The number of Black auto suppliers has dropped from 60 to less than 20.
    (Rev. Jackson will bring Toyota and GM to the Economic Summit to discuss these problems and what they will do to help reestablish these opportunities
  • Media and Telecommunications represent 1/6th of the U. S. economy, yet too few own too much.  African Americans are 13% of the population but minority TV station ownership has dropped from 22 to 4 today.  For full power radio stations, that number has dropped to 240 or only 1.6% of US radio stations.  The tax certificate policy quintupled the number of minority owned stations from 1978 to 1995 but the Gingrich “Contract on America killed it and Congress has repeatedly failed to restore and update the tax certificate policy. 
  • No ethnic group watches more television than African Americans, yet of $75 billion spent on TV, magazine, Internet and radio advertising, only 2.4 billion of it was spent with Black audience focused media.    
Home Foreclosures
  • For Black homeowners, the picture since the recession has been particularly grim.  There have been 4.6 million foreclosures since 2008 and a disproportionate number of the homes, 1.6 million, were black owned.
  • The economic recession in America led to high unemployment for ALL Americans but the labor market continues its steady recovery. Lost in the positive news, though, is the fact that the unemployment rate for African-Americans continues to be double that of whites and that hasn’t changed in 50 years.
    Now that the repuglycons have refused to expand unemployment insurance to 1.6 million Americans, what new strategies can be brought to bear to weather this setback?  Additionally, what should be done from a corporate level to ensure that job opportunities are made available for those who need and want to work?
Rev. Jackson will release a Study and Scorecard on 160 major corporation’s use of minority broker dealer firms and the implications of the findings.  One of the most salient points, according to Rev. Jackson is that, “33% of all African Americans own smart phones; use double the mobile phone minutes as whites; however, when Verizon did the largest corporate bond offering in history last September there were ZERO minority banks or broker dealers used! Fees of $265 million went to a handful of majority owned banks. Additionally, 24M African Americans use the Internet & 76% visit social media sites; however Twitters recent IPO had ONLY 1 minority investment banking firm.  FACEBOOK used a handful of minority firms in its IPO but combined, those minority firms earned less than 1% of the fee.” 

I teasingly asked Rev. Jackson about his recent foray into Facebook, having just recently gotten his own account.  His response was interesting:  The {meanstream} media refuse to give adequate and appropriate coverage of issues that are important to Black people, so I decided to go direct and go on Facebook myself."  When I asked how it was working out for him, he responded, "so far so good, but I've got a lot to learn about social media."

Among the many information rich seminars that will be held over the next three days, I'm singling out "Shared Thoughts of Titans: A compelling discussion with some of the most powerful business leaders in the World" as one of the key workshops to attend,  because so many consistently miss this pivotal workshop, and it  is precisely here that the major prognostications for the future are revealed.  It was at this summit that it was first announced that Inner City Broadcasting was going bankrupt.  A fact that had been held behind closed doors.  

Other hightpoints of the three day conference include: 
  •  The World of Toyota:  A session on business opportunities with the auto manufacturer for asset managers, broker dealers and IT firms.
  • The Business of Hip-Hop: celebrates 40 years of global impact, and unconventional economic development, using non-traditional techniques and methods.
  • The Business of Sports:  Role, Economic Impact and Future of the African American Sports Agent.  The economic impact of African Americans on the $470 Billion US Sports Sector Industry.
  • Wall Street Project Career Symposium: A three-part career management session  geared to strengthen professional employees with empowering tools, resources, skill sets and insights on new realities for creating, and managing employment and career opportunities in today’s highly technical work environment.
  • Student Loan Debt: Learn how to managing it and paying it off
  • Opportunities for Minorities on Corporate and Non-Profit Boards: This session is for senior level execs. who are looking to advance their professional portfolios and demonstrate their leadership acumen through service on corp. and governing boards. Panelists will cover the strategic career choices, skill sets, personal traits and resources necessary for the executive’s service on corporate boards.
  • What Will Jobs Look Like in 5 Years, 10 Years?

    A special forum focusing on Blacks in the digital divide will be held on Thursday, February 13 - while Blacks own cell phones, are more than represented on FaceBook and other social media, it has not translated into the economic parity.  The workshop on the Digital Divide will be most enlightening, as you realize that there is more to those pretty new products than just owning the latest whatever to come off the assembly line.  
    New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio & Family
    The 2014 honorary co-chairs are Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, D-NY 9th District, Terry Lundgren, Chairman, President  & Chief Executive Officer, Macy’s, Inc., General Motors will host a Media Day focusing on opportunities for minority media with the automaker and Houston Style Magazine will serve as a promotional media sponsor.    New York Mayor, the Hon. Bill de Blasio, Hon. Thomas Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture,  John W. Rogers, Jr., Chrm, CEO, Ariel Investments, Cathy Hughes, Chairperson & Founder, Radio One., Inc.,  Latondra Newton, Chief Diversity Officer, Toyota Motor North America, Inc. Isiah Thomas, NBA Hall of Famer among others. 

    Former New York Knick Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas
Honorary Chair Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Brooklyn 8th CD

Entertainment will include Boys Choir of Harlem,  a special performance by Broadway Musical, "After Midnight" and & SWV(Sisters with Voices).


The three day event culminates with their Annual Scholarship Gala: “Wall Street Goes Uptown To Harlem,” and will feature entertainment from the cast of the current Broadway hit musical” After Midnight” and a taste of Harlem from several popular Harlem restaurants.

My last words to you is that you should be taking every opportunity to learn as much as you possibly can in the real world of economics, investments, entrepreneurial opportunities.  Rev. Jackson's Wall Street Project is the only Black run, oriented program that I know of that provides you with the information AND the tools, to make it happen.
Those interested in the full agenda, can log onto www.rainbowpushwallstreetproject.org.  or call  646)-569-5889

Don't miss this pivotal even and integral part of Black history and future.

Stay Blessed & 
Gloria Dulan-Wilson


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