John Hope Bryant has been championing financial literacy for at least 25 years now, advocating for what he calls “silver rights,” which he believes are the civil rights struggle of our time. Bryant is the founder of Operation HOPE, an organization dedicated to providing economic education and access to capital to open the doors of opportunity for individuals in underserved communities. It is dedicated to poverty eradication, financial independence, self-determination, and economic freedom—because one isn’t really free without those things.

Bryant took a lot of heat from the black community last year after he went on Roland Martin’s radio show and described slavery as “first and foremost economic in nature.” What he did not say, of course, was that racism didn’t exist—then or now—or that it doesn’t course deeply through American society and affect everyday life in this country.

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