25 years of black capitalism initiatives.

Author:Edmond, Alfred, Jr.
Position:Countdown to 25

In March 1969, during the time BLACK ENTERPRISE was moving from conception to first bound issue, President Nixon signed Executive Order I 11458, which directed the secretary of commerce to coordinate federal government programs and policies,,which may affect or may contribute to the establishment, preservation and strengthening of minority business enterprise." Executive order 11458 gave birth to programs that American business now accepts - if not always embraces - as givens: the Office of Minority Business Enterprise (now the Minority Business Development Agency or MBDA); minority enterprise cialized, small-business investment companies or SSBICs); and minority set-aside programs and other initiatives aimed at advancing black economic development. More significantly, the mandate brought to light an idea that was long overdue: black capitalism.

Twenty-five years later, black capitalism - or, in more contemporary terms, black economic empowerment - has become the prime battleground of the African-American struggle for freedom and equality. We have made significant progress. Whereas the nation's largest black businesses generated less than $500 million in sales in 1971, the sales of today's 100 largest black industrial service companies exceeded more than $6 billion last year. Once African-American companies were limited to the black consumer. Now black-owned businesses have progressed into national and international markets, while doing business with the nation's largest customers - corporate America...

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