Black Wealth 2020
Economic justice movement aims to ‘turbo charge’ Black wealth

Michael Grant, National Bankers Association and Marie Johns, managing partner, Leftwich LLC

Michael Grant, National Bankers Assoc. and Marie Johns, managing partner, Leftwich LLC

( — According to the following statistics, the economic condition of America’s Black community is in dire straits:

• A recent study by Harvard University found that homeownership in the Black community stands at only 42.2% in the nation’s largest metro areas. That’s below the Latino-American community, which is at 46% and well below the White American community, which is at 72%.

• In addition, the mortgage denial rate for Blacks is more than 25%, near 20% for Latinos but just over 10% for White applicants, according to the Center for Enterprise Development.

• Likewise, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. says the lack of access to capital remains the greatest barrier to the establishment, expansion and growth of Black-owned businesses.

• Finally, Black-owned banks, which grant an overwhelming majority of their loans to Black people, continue to climb their way out of the disparate hit they took during the great recession while maintaining their historic role in stabilizing Black communities.

These revelations illustrating the economic struggles of African Americans are the driving forces behind the founding of a new group that’s leading a movement for Black economic justice across America. Black Wealth 2020, formally established only two years ago, aims to lock arms with some of the most historic national civic and civil rights organizations with a goal to impact economic outcomes in Black America over the next three years. The group’s three-pronged strategy is to increase the number of Black homeowners, strengthen Black-owned businesses and increase deposits in Black banks by the year 2020.

“If you have strong business ownership, strong home ownership and strong financial institutions, that’s freedom. It’s the closest proximity that we’ll get,” said Johns, also chair of the Howard University board of visitors and creator of SBA’s Council on Underserved Communities.

In a nutshell, the seeds of Black Wealth 2020 were initially planted during a fight for economic justice. It started about seven years ago as several like-minded heads of organizations with economic components began regularly discussing the financial plight of Black people. The group gelled after National Bankers Association President Michael Grant, National Association of Black-owned Broadcasters (NABOB) President Jim Winston and U.S. Black Chamber President (USBC) Ron Busby joined forces with Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to push for Black business inclusion in a proposed merger between Comcast and NBC Universal.

Winston had asked Waters, ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, to take action in the situation. Winston then pulled in Grant who pulled in Busby. The Comcast merger ultimately failed. “But we decided to put together some kind of organizational team,” said Grant, “So that whenever these issues come up, we’ll have a united front and we’ll have a lot of organizations. That’s how Black Wealth 2020 was formed.” The ultimate goal is to “turbo charge” Black wealth, Grant said.

While Black Wealth 2020 is uniquely economic, it aims to work alongside traditional civil rights organizations, including the National Urban League, the NAACP and others, Winston says.

Other leaders in Black Wealth 2020 include: HomeFree USA President Marcia Griffin; Zenviba Academy of Arts and Science President John William Templeton; Collective Empowerment Group National President Dr. Jonathan Weaver; National Association of Real Estate Brokers President Ron Cooper; Enlightened: Beyond Expectations President Antwanye Ford; and Delta Sigma Theta President Dr. Paulette Walker. At latest count, the group has a total immediate reach of at least three million people.