The Black Excellence Conference, hosted by Rural Women in Action, gave us a glimpse of what our community once was, and hopefully the conference will be the inspiration for what we can do together, collectively, in the near future. With all this talk about making America great again, the question becomes: When was America great for black and indigenous people?
As we analyze our history, we know that societies have typically done better when they were self-sustainable. Meaning, there were times before integration, that blacks owned more local businesses, because we couldn’t shop at the Jim Crow businesses uptown.
As inhumane as segregation was, it had one positive side effect for black business owners. Segregation forced black people to become dependant on each other for goods and services. That factor made us recirculate dollars back into our own communities.
Thus, providing black owned establishments the economic footprint to produce employment opportunities for citizens in our neighborhoods.
Before integration, black people had an entire school system called Glenwood. That school system was fully staffed by black teachers who were well known by the residents. At the end of each day, students could walk from school to the local store owned by Mr. Mayfield Camp.
Entrepreneurship was a must, because no matter how qualified we were, we couldn’t rely on equal opportunities for sustainable employment uptown. Therefore, we created our own opportunities by supporting each other.
Tammy Kinney and Rural Women in Action’s vision for the Conference is not just a blast from the past. The Black Excellence Conference provides us with a detailed guide to a self-sustainable future.