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National Civil Rights Museum Hosts Catalyst for Change Panel on Building Black Wealth
May 4 – May 17, 2023

“Before his death, Dr. King emphasized the dignity of labor and economic empowerment for all through his plans for the Poor People's Campaign,” said Dr. Russ Wigginton, National Civil Rights Museum President. “Fifty-five years later, significant gaps remain between the "haves" and "have nots" and opportunities for people to reach their economic potential. The Museum is committed to raising awareness and working with leaders and organizations to find remedies to close these gaps.”

On April 27, The Museum hosted a hybrid discussion, “Building Black Wealth: Past, Present, and Future,” to highlight the history of structural racism and systems that create wealth disparities between Black Americans and other communities. By analyzing labor, employment, and economic development, panelists hoped to inspire action toward building a future of economic safety and prosperity for the Black community.

“Building Black Wealth” is a topic shrouded in common myths about how success in underserved communities should look. Practices leading to divestment and distrust in economic power have delayed solutions to equitable and sustainable economic change. Moderated by Roshun Austin, the President/CEO of The Works, Inc., the panel covered strategies for building equity through capital gains, social programs, and policy reform that address the high cost of education, increasing debt, and increasing interest rates.

The panelists included:

Jozelle Booker, President & CEO of Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum, whose work supports the growth and development of minority and women-owned businesses through advocacy, business consulting, capacity building, public and private contact connections and access to capital;

Dr. Charles McKinney, Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of History at Rhodes College, whose areas of expertise are the Civil Rights/Black Power Era, African American Activism, and African American Politics; and,

Erik Stevenson, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Greater Memphis Chamber. His work as a professional is centered around developing communities that have been historically underserved.
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