by Bernice Elizabeth Green
July 3 in front of One Police Plaza in Manhattan, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announced his support of struggling Black and Brown businesses facing economic calamity and possible closure due to the ongoing COVD-19 pandemic.
Adams’ effort is part of the continuing One Brooklyn multicultural campaign designed to grow a sustainable, more empowered Brooklyn.
Upon learning of the BP’s campaign and rally on behalf of New York City’s small ethnic businesses through a press release, Our Time Press drew parallels to the work of Earl G. Graves, Jr., the late Brooklyn-born and raised business leader who founded Black Enterprise Magazine, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next month.
BE’s Advisory Board included: political leaders Shirley Chisholm, John Lewis, Julian Bond, Edward Brooke; business leaders William Hudgins, Henry G. Parks, Jr., and Mr. Evers; NY Times journalist Thomas Johnson, and Mr. Graves, then age 35. The opening words of Graves’ very first publisher’s statement in BE’s premier issue resonate one-half century later, and could have been Adams own words at the rally:
Graves wrote, “The health– indeed the survival — of this nation will depend upon the extent to which our ethnic minorities will participate and profit from its economic system. The Black businessman, and entrepreneurs from other minorities, have for the most part been systematically excluded from any meaningful participation in the economic mainstream. They have been the ‘missing link’ in the chain of benefits which have sprung from the American enterprises that have built our ever-increasing gross national product. Black sweat, black muscles and black brains have contributed greatly to that gross national product, but at the same time black entrepreneurs have not profited — neither fully nor fairly — in its rewards.
“Lacking capital, managerial and technical knowledge and crippled y prejudice, the minority businessman has been effectively kept out of the profitable corner of the American marketplace. We want to help change this.
“We do not expect that all minority businessmen, new or experienced, will succeed. They will not. Some will fail.
“But we do believe that all should have the opportunity to compete.”
(In a future issue, Our Time Press observes BE’s 50th in remembrances from Graves’ first team members, including Judy Beardsall, photographer LeRoy Henderson and, for transparency, this writer, who was BE’s assistant editor.)