M_e38531b4ab8102f0b79ce631d5c1100_2Written by John Hope Bryant, June 8th, 2003

Why Black America counts in America

Without African-Americans, corporate America could not get to their offices because Alexander Miles invented the elevator.

Without African-Americans, corporate America could not drive their cars because Richard Spikes invented the automatic gear shift, used in our automobiles.

Without African-Americans, corporate America could not arrive to work safely, because Garrett A Morgan invented the traffic signal.

Without African-Americans, blue collar America could not get to their jobs in most 20th century urban cities, because Elbert R. Robinson invented the electric trolley.

Without African-Americans, no one in working America could get to work anywhere, because Charles Brooks invented the street sweeper.

Without African-Americans, mainstream America could not get any intelligent work done, at home, work or school, because John Love invented the pencil sharpener, and William Purvis the fountain pen.

Without African-Americans, creative America could not have produced the historic documents that now comprise some of our greatest plays, speeches, newspapers, television shows, and movies, because Lee Burridge invented the type writer, and W.A. Lovette invented the advanced printing press.

Without African-Americans, mainstream America could not efficiently communicate with each other nor conduct business in the 20th century, because William Barry invented the postmarking & canceling machine, and Philip Downing invented the letter drop.

Without African-Americans, American households would not externally be the neat and clean symbols of the American dream they are today, because Joseph Smith invented the lawn sprinkler, and John Burr invented the lawn mower.

Without African-Americans, American families could have little to no comfort within their modern homes, because Frederick Jones, a Black man, invented the air conditioner, and Alice Parker invented the heating furnace.

Without African-Americans, American households would not be the tidy visuals you often see on television sitcoms and commercials, because Thomas W Stewart, a Black man, invented the mop, and Lloyd P Ray invented the dust pan.

Without African-Americans, American households could never get mother, father or child even out the door in the morning, because Jan E. Matzelinger invented the shoe lasting machine, Walter Sammons the comb, Sarah Boone the ironing board, George T. Samon the clothes dryer, John Standard the refrigerator, and Lewis Latimer the light bulb filament.

And here is the real irony, without African-Americans, white American segregationists, here in California, could not have used the laws for all of us, against some of us in the 20th century, because Bernard S. Jefferson, doctorate of law from Harvard in the 1920’s and a black man, wrote the California evidence bench book.

Others have suggested that Blacks have always had a hand out, dependency mentality in America…

Blacks were generous and committed to self help long before the so-called era of dependency. By 1831 there were more than 43 black benevolent or mutual aid societies in Philadelphia alone. In addition to that, there were mutual aid organizations in the 1780’s, the club women of the 1880’s, or the rent parties of 1930’s.

In the 18th, 19th and early 20th century, blacks were their own united ways.

Some throughout history would have you believe that while we have an absolute right to freedom, we have never been a leader of all people. That we are somehow marginalized leaders at best.

Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable, a black man, founded Chicago.

William Alexander Leidesdorff, a black man, played a key role in the founding of San Francisco.

26 of the 44 founders of Los Angeles were descendants of Africa.

An unfortunate few would have you believe that we cannot learn, or worse, that we don’t want to.

Up until the beginning of the 20th century, Blacks were actively encouraged not to educate themselves, and in many states, there were laws against the Blacks.

And in 1940 black adults averaged just 5 years of schooling.

In 1960 it was 8 years.

In 1970 it was 10 years.

Doubling your education in one generation tends to increase your income. In fact, college graduates make on average of $40,000 a year more than high school dropouts.

And this is not exclusively a Black issue. 40% of all Americans today make, on average, $28,000 a year, and more than 30 million Americans have no checking account.

I believe that education is the ultimate poverty eradication tool, which is why I founded Operation HOPE, America’s first non-profit social investment banking organization, and the leading provider of economic empowerment tools and services.

No matter how you cut it, African-Americans have proven that, when we apply ourselves, focus our energy, put our faith in God, believe in ourselves and this country and the essence of its Constitution, and work every day to advance our individual agenda – NO ONE CAN DENY US OUR RIGHTFUL DESTINY IN THIS WORLD.

We are all in this together, and America is better, because Black America is here.

Onward with HOPE


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