Emory alum Maggie Anderson and her household gained worldwide consideration in 2009 as they lived out her public pledge to solely “purchase Black” for a complete 12 months. Anderson shared her ardour fueled by their historic 12 months — referred to as “The Empowerment Experiment” — because the keynote speaker for the college’s 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture.
Anderson graduated from Emory Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1993 with a significant in political science, and went on to earn a JD and an MBA from the College of Chicago. She is the writer of “Our Black Yr: One Household’s Quest to Purchase Black in America’s Racially Divided Economic system.”
Talking on “Legacy and Accountability” for the Jan. 28 lecture, she related her household’s expertise with King’s legacy from each financial and private standpoints.
King sought equality for all individuals earlier than the legislation, but additionally sought financial justice. Even his well-known “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington in 1963 handled the financial battle that Black Individuals had – and would proceed to have – with out adequately addressing civil and financial rights.
“Permit me a second to make clear the misperception about King and Black-owned companies,” Anderson mentioned. “That King was combating for equality and never empowerment; that King was anti-war and anti-wealth, combating for the poor towards the affluent; that his legacy was extra about ensuring we might store at segregated, white-owned companies and fewer about build up Black-owned companies; that he was a prince for the poor who demanded alternatives and jobs doesn’t imply he was against our possession, our capability and our obligation to create these jobs.
“It simply wasn’t his battle. His battle was about peace,” she continued. “He wished integration, he wished enfranchisement, he wished to assist Black individuals or poor individuals get jobs, really feel protected and free.”
King known as for a revolution of values to cope with these points. He noticed poverty, unemployment and lack of training and hope as violence that wanted to finish. Non-violence, by King’s measure, ought to admire and worth the humanity and work of each particular person and construct partnerships with all who search a greater life.
Anderson added that individuals didn’t hear King say “Purchase Black” as a result of he didn’t need to.
“The Black companies have been proper there funding his battle, permitting his audacity,” she mentioned. “He didn’t need to construct them up – they constructed King up. We had financial unity. We have been united – and united, we at all times have extra energy than ache.”
Right this moment, Anderson mentioned, “It’s my duty and legacy to place my cash in Black-owned companies.” She challenged listeners to do the identical.
“As a lot as this [the Empowerment Experiment] was a stand, we wished this to be knowledge pushed and revered as a examine,” Anderson mentioned throughout a Q&A session with Carol E. Henderson, Emory’s vice provost for range and inclusion, chief range officer and adviser to the president.
“We felt like this particular difficulty – shopping for Black, financial justice, financial empowerment, no matter you need to name it – wasn’t seen as a critical difficulty,” Anderson famous. “We didn’t really feel like the problem was injected into the mainstream. As a lot as we talked about training or well being care, this difficulty was not talked about within the public sphere.”
Her household’s expertise in 2009 helped change that, with an unprecedented quantity of mainstream media, college and company consideration to Black-owned companies, systemic racism within the American financial system and financial inequality. It additionally led to a landmark Kellogg examine proving that 1 million jobs may very well be created if Black corporations obtained a small improve in assist.
Anderson additionally shared how King fought for Black-owned companies and spoke of their collective shopping for energy, stating that the identical ought to be true in the present day.
“The Empowerment Experiment at its coronary heart was our try to search out methods to battle racism, improve racial concord and present the world a greater Black America,” she mentioned. “We’ve bought to cease combating racism with our protests after which enabling racism with our purchases. Financial unity is our most peaceable, highly effective protest. Once we assist those that want it – once we want assist ourselves – we are able to transfer mountains.”
“That is about race however not racial division,” Henderson mentioned, reiterating a degree from “Our Black Yr.” That is “a chat to reorient us on the ability every of us has within ourselves to enact change.”
The MLK Lecture was co-sponsored by Emory’s Development and Alumni Engagement, Division of African American Research, Goizueta Enterprise College, Emory Legislation and The Hightower Fund.