Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why Aren't These Discussions Being Held at a Higher Level?

On last Saturday while attending a funeral repast I sat around a table with at least six other astute, articulate, intelligent African American young men. Their titles included a former school board president, pastor, supervisory special agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, corporate manager, and a teacher. Along with being the author of The Critical Thinker, and radio talk show host of The Reading Circle, I am a school administrator. I am sharing all of this to help you the readers understand that the learned discussion taking place was being discussed by an impressive panel. A part of the discussion included the fact that African Americans in general consume far more than they own. We discussed how our dollars fail to circulate within our community or to our African American owned businesses. We discussed several reasons for this occurring and in that discussion developed the thoughts for this edition of The Critical Thinker.

Something that has always mystified me is the fact that this type of discussion is not being held at a round table comprised of leaders of major African American organizations such as the National Baptist Convention, the heads of the “Big Eight,” fraternities and sororities, Masonic orders, Beauticians Associations, and so forth and so on (http://www.aawc.com/Zaao.html). It seems to me that the leaders of these organizations would get together and come up with a strategy to leverage their collective membership numbers. One idea that has always crossed my mind was the building of convention centers for all of the groups to use by pooling monetary resources from each organization. Every year each group holds a 3-5 day convention usually rotating cities around the country. The conventions are usually held at a major hotel convention center. My idea would work like this. Each organization would suspend holding their respective conventions for a 5 year period; however, the same convention fees that would normally be collected from the members would still be assessed. The money would be placed in an escrow account and would be ultimately used to build the first convention center. It could be in the middle of the country; Kansas City, Missouri. Once the first site is completed, each group would then hold their conventions at that site making it self supporting. The profits generated from the first site would then fund the second site on the east or west coast. As the second center is completed, conventions would now be held at both and so on and so on and so on, until we have convention centers for our use all around the country.

Can you imagine the combined leveraging power and profit potential of groups which include the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. the nation’s oldest and largest African American religious convention with an estimated membership of 7.5 million, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. with its 175,000 initiated members, along with the membership numbers of all of the other African American organizations? Currently each group does their own thing making the Marriott’s, the Hilton's and others even more prosperous. With our collective numbers, why don’t we have our own? If the Marriott’s and the Hilton’s refused to host our conventions, where would we go? Do you think Ford, Honda, Nissan or General Motors would listen to the combined leadership of these organizations concerning doing business with their membership body? If CEO’s of these companies are smart (and they are) they would.

I end this edition, by asking the question, why are not the heads of these major African American organizations having the type of conversation that me and my six buddies were having around the table at a funeral repast? Think about it. While you are thinking, visit www.rushmoredrive.com; I will be sharing more about this site in my next edition of The Critical Thinker.

I welcome your comments and debate.


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