Like anyone fortunate enough to reach the half way mark in this life, I reached the 50 year mark with both appreciation, and questions. Appreciation that God has allowed me to reach this point, basically in better health than I was when I was 25 years old, and questions as to the quality of my time on this earth. And likewise, important questions as to the mark I have left (if any) for the benefit of others ~ on this planet.
And while I do believe that I could have 'done more' at this tick of the watch in my life, I am comfortable with our contributions to 'a world better,' because I and we were here. As I look back, here are some of the professional high marks my my first 50 years. Bryant@50.
January, 2008 —Directly inspired by the on-the-ground work of Operation HOPE, U.S. President George W. Bush signed the first ever Executive Order establishing financial literacy as the policy of the U.S. Federal government in the nation’s history. January, 2016 — Inspired by the credibility and track record of Operation HOPE, and in response to a respectful, personal request, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew made the decision to change the name of the U.S. Treasury Annex Building to the Freedman’s Bank Building, on January 7th, 2016. This was only the second time in American history that a building has been renamed on the 18 acre White House complex. On March 3rd, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation ‘creating a bank to teach freed slaves about money and the free enterprise system.’ January, 2016 — We organized the largest gathering of leaders in the world, for the empowerment of the poor and the underserved, in Atlanta, Georgia. More than 3200 Delegates from 25+ countries gathered for the HOPE Global Forum Annual Meeting of Operation HOPE. MSNBC broadcast and webcast the Annual Meeting nationally. The Freedman’s Bank story is now the Operation HOPE narrative, and emerged out of Bryant’s storytelling about the bank in his last bestselling book, “How The Poor Can Save Capitalism. The Solution for the 100%.” “How The Poor Can Save Capitalism” has now been translated into four languages (Korean, Portuguese, Arabic, Greek), and because it, today I am one of only a few bestselling authors on economics in the world who happens to be of African-American descent. Operation HOPE is today the nation’s first nonprofit financial services network for the underserved. Through Operation HOPE and my other philanthropic efforts, we are responsible for raising and directing more than $2.5 billion in capital in urban, inner city and underserved communities, serving more than 2 million clients since the 1992 Los Angeles riots. We have done this with a laser-like focus, using the global economy to help people help themselves. I call this our “silver rights” movement, utilizing the power of open-source capitalism, and making the free enterprise system work for all. Operation HOPE is building an economy for all. This is my contribution. This is my take away. This is my 'leave behind.' This --- is my living legacy. John Hope Bryant