Denise Moore CEO of the Black Business Alliance

Black Business Month is celebrated in August — it’s a time to acknowledge and appreciate black-owned businesses across the nation and all that they represent in the country’s continual striving for diversity and equality. Denise Moore, CEO of the Black Business Alliance in Peoria, Illinois, has this to say about the importance of Black Business month: “Black Business Month is exciting because it gives us an opportunity to focus on a community that is far too often underrepresented when it comes to access to capital and opportunities to build wealth.”

When we celebrate the contribution of black business owners and entrepreneurs, it pays homage to them and their legacies, especially since celebrating this month recognizes the importance of black-owned businesses when it comes to contributing to the nation’s economy as well. Approximately 10% of all American businesses are black-owned, and if we look at what statistics say about minority-owned businesses, about 30% of these would belong to black business owners. The primary sectors in which black-owned businesses operate include health care, social work, repair and maintenance, beauty salons, restaurants, and more. Black businesses across the country are booming and, on the rise, with Washington D.C. having the highest ratio of black-owned businesses, a whopping 28%. These business also have an important role to play towards supporting student and education by giving funds towards scholarship of African American Students.   

History of Black Business Month

The history of Black Business Month can be traced back to the year 2004, when engineering entrepreneur Frederick E. Jordan partnered with the president and executive editor of the scholarly publishing company eAccess Corp,’ John William Templeton, to start this annual event. The intention of the pair was to “drive the policy agenda affecting the 2.6 million African-American businesses,” in order to highlight and empower Black business owners all over, especially given the unique challenges faced by minority business owners. This stemmed from Jordan’s own personal experience of the struggle to gain financial backing and funding when he began his own firm in San Francisco in 1969.

Today, he is the successful owner of F. E. Jordan Associates Inc., a company that has international reach, but it also led him to realize that the odds are still not in favor of Black entrepreneurship. To push for equity in the business spaces and to celebrate those who are thriving despite the challenges, Black Business Month is a month-long celebration of entrepreneurs who beat the odds.

Since the late 1700s, both free and enslaved Black people began to open their own small businesses, from barbershops to tobacco shops and shoemaking. As emancipation grew, so did the establishment of Black-owned businesses, and this led to the period between 1900 — 1930 being labeled as the ‘golden age’ of Black-owned businesses. Segregation saw entire districts becoming Black-owned, such as Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In 1915, with the establishment of The National Negro Business League, there was widespread support of African-American entrepreneurship, with The National Business League spreading to over 34 states. By 2002, 1.2 million of the United States’ 23 million businesses were owned by Black people, bringing in a revenue of over $150 billion! How’s that for booming business?

BLACK BUSINESS MONTH TIMELINE

1898 Black People Begin to Own Insurance Companies

The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company is established and quickly becomes one of the oldest and most prominent Black-owned insurance companies in the U.S.

1915 First Black National Business League is Founded

Booker T. Washington founds The National Negro Business League (later renamed The National Business League), to support Black entrepreneurs as they start out.

1920s Black Wall Street

In the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, affluent Black businesses mushroom and flourish, earning the nickname Black Wall Street.

1980s Black Business Brings in Billions

Reginald Lewis is the first African-American to build a billion-dollar company — TLC International Holding.

2004 Black Business Month is Established

Founded by Frederick E. Jordan and John William Templeton, Black Business Month becomes an annual celebration.