Panelists promote African-American business at summit


During last night’s State of the Black Student Summit hosted by FAMU’s Student Government Association, celebrity panelists focused on black excellence and the importance of supporting black owned businesses.  

Talk show host and journalist Carmen Wong Ulrich expressed the meaning behind having a dream and believing in its vision.

“We must all learn how to invest in ourselves,” said Ulrich, “with the support of others in the black community and having just a little bit of faith, anything is possible”. 

Summit panelist, Arthur Wylie stressed the significance of proper finance management during the early stages of starting a business.  Wylie’s ventures started out of his dorm room and he quickly grew to millionaire status, at the young age of 26. 

“I manage clients in major industries throughout the country and the misuse of hard owned money can definitely lead to troubles in the future,” said Wylie.

According to an online study black-owned businesses, which are defined by the government as firms with African-American owners holding a 51% or larger stake in the business, raked in $137 billion in sales and receipts and made up 7.1% of businesses nationwide in 2007, compared to 5.2% in 2002.

Even with numbers that show high revenue intake, black businesses for some reason still remain small. 

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, intellectual and activist, provided insight on the advantages of being alert about the steps of African-Americans in the community and how everyone can benefit.  Hill said, “With support of our people, the presence of our businesses won’t go ignored.”

Students had an opportunity to ask some panelists one on one questions after the summit pertaining to their endeavors of starting their own business.  Senior political science and pre-law student, Sarah Lee said she was highly impressed by the panel discussion and felt like each participant provided a wealth of information that could be useful after graduation.  

“With dreams of one day becoming the CEO of my own law firm, I gained a lot of motivation that will lead me in the right direction to succeed, no matter what type of business I decide to work towards,” Lee said. 

Summit Chair, Eric Majors put together an all-star panel that consisted of people like recording artist and nine-time Grammy award winner, John Legend.  Legend spoke about how damaged the education system is and the weight that a college degree has in the business realm.  Author Omar Tyree is deemed by many as a literary icon.  He says that for him, writing became his business and he’s been successful ever since.     

Economic student Dallas Gibson claims that for him black businesses are the only way to go.  He says the sad reality is that t if blacks don’t support themselves, nobody will. 

“For years, African-Americans have been fighting for change and rights,” Gibson said, “I will forever stand behind businesses that were created in the eyes of adversity.”