The City of Memphis is significant in the fight for financial and human dignity in this country. It is in this city, at the historic Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, where Dr. King delivered his famous “Mountaintop” address and spoke against the economic injustices experienced by the Memphis sanitation workers. In that same speech, he called for a strike to raise awareness around the plight of the mostly Black sanitation workers and to call for radical change. The next day, in that same city, Dr. King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
Although they killed the messenger, the message of financial equity for all lives on through Operation HOPE and its partners. In 2018, I had the esteemed privilege of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Sanitation Worker’s Strike in Memphis serving as the official keynote speaker at the I AM A MAN Honor Ceremony and sharing the impact of the work that began there. That night we celebrated the launch of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign and honored the brave men who stood against injustice and demanded fair pay. Today, I have the honor of championing a cause which stands in that same legacy and continues Dr. King’s work of ensuring opportunity for all. HOPE’s newest initiative, One Million Black Businesses and Entrepreneurs (1MBB), powered by HOPE and Shopify, seeks to help Black Americans gain access to equity and opportunity through capital access and small business creation. We have an ambitious objective of standing up 1 million new Black-owned businesses over the next ten years. It is a tremendous and audacious goal, which is how I know it’s the right magnitude to affect change.
My good friend, Mayor Jim Strickland, from the City of Memphis, has been using the power of his office, with the blessing of his constituents, to help empower and enable Dr. King’s vision in the city’s neighborhoods and the workplace through HOPE’s employee financial wellness program, HOPE Inside the Workplace. Memphis is also home to nine other HOPE Inside locations around the city. Recently, at the Virtual HOPE Global Forums 2020, Mayor Strickland announced his commitment of support for 1MBB and will do his part to help us reach our goal of creating 1 million new Black businesses and entrepreneurs.
Mayor Strickland is an example of the type of leader that America needs as we begin to heal and transforming our country for the better and repair the breach of racial and class injustice. He is a man of the people with a heart bent towards service and wants to see lives fundamentally changed for the better and the general welfare of his constituents improved. I am grateful for his friendship and his willingness to lean in and lend a hand in this effort.
If you are a government official, business leader, subject matter expert, or a donor who supports our cause, you can partner with us through HOPE Commitments for 1MBB as well. Click here to fill out the form and learn more and we’ll create impact together.