According to the statistics shared by Brad “Kamikaze” Franklin at a recent press conference, African Americans account for 90 percent of Jackson, Mississippi’s population, but own less than 10 percent of the wealth.
Even national statistics provide startling insight. For example, the combined buying power of African Americans is $1.1 trillion; and yet only two cents of every dollar an African American spends in this country goes to black owned businesses. And major corporations only allocate about three percent of their budget for marketing to African Americans.
Additionally, there’s a massive leakage of money out of the African American community. Currently, a dollar circulates in Asian communities for a month, Jewish communities for approximately 20 days and white communities 17 days. However the dollar only circulates in the black community for six hours.
It is these statistics, along with the recent and senseless deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner that have led Franklin and a group of young Jackson progressives to come together and revive the Jackson Black Pages and host the Jackson Black Business Expo.
Founded by George “Chuck” Patterson, the Jackson Black Pages is a business directory and publication for Jackson that connects black owned businesses to the community via the web and a yearly print publication. Businesses can sign up and list their business on the organization’s website for free.
“I was a history and computer science major at Tougaloo, so I’ve always tried to mesh the two together,” Patterson recalls. “When I was doing some research about the Green Book and what it was for black folks when they needed it, that’s where the idea for the Black Pages came from, so that I could know where I could go and know that my dollar would make a difference. We didn’t have that.”
Embracing the principles of Umjamaa, the Black Pages’ mission is simple…promote black owned businesses. It’s the Jackson Black Pages, along with local businesses Ourglass Media Group, Thick & Proud Sisters and Extraordinary Business Solutions that’s hosting the Jackson Black Business Expo. The Expo is 12 p.m. Saturday, February 21 in the gymnasium of Tougaloo College’s Owens Health & Wellness Center.
The event is free and open to the public and will feature black owned businesses from around the Metro Jackson community. Businesses interested vendor space can register at expo.jacksonblackpages.com.
Buying black is not a new phenomenon. During Reconstruction many blacks were forced to find a space to call their own. That’s how communities such as Farish Street and Black Wall Street were created. In it’s heyday, Farish Street was the largest economically independent African American community in Mississippi.
Supporting black owned businesses strengthens the black community economically, provides jobs, enhances the education system, curtails crime, and creates generational wealth. For more information about the Jackson Black Pages and the Jackson Black Business Expo, visit www.jacksonblackpages.com.