An Article by
William A. Taylor as published in the Black Business Listings
(One of The Business Lawyers)
Through the struggles of the Civil Rights movement, African Americans gained political rights during the 20th century - which ended a short eight years ago. Starting now, in the 21st century, the collective goal of African Americans must be the struggle for and the attainment of economic rights. This world view was expressed by John Hope Bryant, the founder, Chairman and CEO of OPERATION HOPE INC. and the national leader of the "Silver Rights" movement.
OPERATION HOPE (www.operationhope.org) organizes volunteers to go into inner cities schools - starting at the 4th grade – to teach economic literacy and to be living role models to those students who may never have interacted with someone looking like them who has a business card, or wears business clothes on days other than Sundays. They call this program "Banking on Our Future."
Money and Dignity The volunteers of OPERATION HOPE (who are people like the readers of the Black Business Listings) are projecting to the students the values of money and dignity. These two values are tied together in words of John Hope Bryant like, "It's not how much money you have, it's what you do with it." Example: You can live in the inner city, in the midst of a national real estate crisis, yet still make the most of it all:
- You can realize that the housing prices will at long last be realistically related to the incomes of an area and will be affordable to people who were priced out of home ownership only two short years ago.
- You can realize that the federal and state government cannot and will not allow the housing segment of the economy to stagger for longer than it takes to weed-off the worst financial practices that brought on the crisis; then the governments will inject money to get things going again.
- If you are suffering from the loss of a house in this crisis, you can realize that this housing crisis is primarily a middle class crisis (also affecting the upper class and the working poor) and that the government is rushing to institute housing programs and market fixes to get the middle class back on track and back to buying houses – all to keep the larger, overall $14 trillion national economy moving forward and not failing by falling into a recession.
- You can realize that, being a national, middle class economic crisis, there will be millions of others whose credit will show the bruises and marks of the crisis – but that such bruises will be the norm – making you loan–eligible again, all to keep the economy moving and not falling into recession.
- You can realize that your inner city house will soon prove to be a goldmine as pressure builds from people flocking to the cities from the suburbs – to escape hour-long commutes and high gas prices and the virtual isolation imposed by the distances to anywhere, even to the "corner" store - that might be two miles away.
OPERATION HOPE starts with the macro, the big picture, grounded in the history of Civil Rights, and brings that history forward to the future, where the push for "Silver Rights" will be waged. As John Hope Bryant stated, "Civil Rights were won in the past, by people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Andrew Young. Silver Rights (economic rights) must be won in the (near) future, by (grassroots) people like you."
OPERATION HOPE operates through people like you, who can go into classrooms once a month and explain the value of and need for savings accounts and how they form the basis of the American economic system and can explain dignity - the need to be involved in the legitimate, tax paying economic system and the dignity of not being caught up in the drug culture, the gang culture and the prison culture and (short) lifestyle.
OPERATION HOPE holds that education is the key for the future, the ticket required to join the American economic society. Establishing education as the goal of the 4th graders will help reverse the current fact that there are more black men in prison, here in America, than in college, and that the majority of people in prison did not graduate from high school.
OPERATION HOPE plans to catch the 4th grader before he or she turns to the street life for fulfillment. It sees street hustlers as being "misguided" not dumb; they know all about supply and demand, cash versus credit, buying in bulk, buying low and selling high. They are just in illegal businesses that end up getting them killed – in of before their 20s. Providing them an alternative way far from that lifestyle is the goal of OPERATION HOPE.
Adult Programs A second emphasis of OPERATION HOPE a the series of workshops and classes to help adults with:
- Small business programs
- Home ownership
- Credit and money management
- Natural Disasters – through the HOPE COALITION
Locally, all of these programs are conducted at the Oakland office (which is located in and sponsored by Bank of the West at 3062 East 9th Street – in the shopping center (510) 535-6700. OPERATION HOPE even has lenders who are trying to help people embroiled in the mortgage crisis.
Potential volunteer to go into the schools once a month should email the program Manager Narrisa Dotson- Lindo (firstname.lastname@example.org) to sign up or call her at (510) 434-5294. You will be making history equal to the Civil Rights era; you will be part of the Silver Rights era – when black folk got a handle on finances and started participating equally in this American economy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William A. Taylor, attorney at law, is the managing partner of Taylor, Goins & Stallworth LLP, which does business as "THE BUSINESS LAWYERS." He can be reached at (510) 893-9465 or www.thebusinesslawyers.com.