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"Ten years ago, after the Million Man March - By James Clingman Jr."
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Ten years ago, after the Million Man March (MMM), hundreds of brothers and sisters in Cincinnati started meeting every Saturday morning to work on the things we knew were necessary to uplift our people. We developed social, economic, political, educational, and legal strategies that would help us manifest the pledges and commitments we made during the MMM event. We also formed several committees to work on these initiatives. Of course, I chose to work on the Economic Development Committee, during which time I offered a concept called O.U.R.S., which is an acronym for Organized and United Resources for Self-Sufficiency. Ten years later, I offered to set it up again, as a commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the MMM; I now offer it to you.
As I travel around the country speaking to different groups, inevitably I am asked what local groups can do to change the economic condition of their people. Understanding that all cities have unique challenges and opportunities, one thing we all have in common is the need for money in order to implement our initiatives. My intention back in 1995 was to create a fund that we could use to assist with the myriad of concepts our group devised, knowing that anything we decided upon it would take money to do it. Likewise, no matter where you live, and no matter what your particular challenges are, you are going to need some money to meet them.
O.U.R.S. is a way not only to establish a Black-operated funding base for initiatives, it also is way to instill in our people the principle of doing more for ourselves with our own resources, paying our own way without having to ask and beg someone else, and to form a habit in us to help our own people and to make the necessary sacrifices for our collective uplift. As I often say, the concepts I write about are not mine; I place no proprietary claim on them. These things have been done by our relatives since the 1700’s. Numerous business cooperatives were developed and managed by Black folks, two of the most famous of which were the Colored Merchants Association and the Cooperative Consumers of New Haven, Inc.
Pooling money and resources is nothing new; many groups in this country do it and use their collective resources to start new businesses, get lower prices in the marketplace, and to build an economic foundation for their children. Why are we so reluctant to do it? In every city there should be at least one O.U.R.S. fund. Deposits to the fund could be made whenever we get paid, just a few dollars per person, and would soon be built up to a level at which we could do some very positive things. Each person can decide what he or she would put into the fund from time to time, and an accounting of the fund could be published and sent out to all who participate. You make your own rules on the use of the funds and how they would be disbursed.
There have been national movements to start such funds, but I am convinced that they must be started locally and managed locally, and then maybe we could leverage a national movement from several local funds. With all of the challenges and opportunities I see in various cities around this country, if we would do the simple things, like starting an O.U.R.S. fund, and supporting the Blackonomics Million Dollar Club (BMDC), our time would be well spent and the results would most beneficial.
O.U.R.S. funds could be used to assist our people with day-to-day issues that arise; they could be used to invest in or make loans to Black businesses; they could be used to bring events to our cities; they could be used to set up food co-ops and business associations; they could be used fund our think tanks and pay for our meetings; and they could be used to purchase venues for our Juneteenth Celebrations, our Kwanzaa Celebrations, and other events that we like but now, in many cases, have to run to someone else to foot the bill.
Think seriously about what an O.U.R.S. fund can do for you in your particular city. In addition to the tangible things I mentioned, it will also demonstrate how serious you are about freedom. The revolution may not be televised, but it sure will have to be financed. O.U.R.S. funds all over this country will make our revolution much easier to manage.
It is reasonable to believe that we have the resources to achieve this simple task without a lot of hoopla, meetings, analysis, and all the other diversions that keep us from doing the things we should for ourselves. It is reasonable for us to want to engage in some kind of collective activity that will uplift our people. It is reasonable to assume that if Black people are at the bottom of every economic category in this country that we must create and execute economic strategies to get us out of this mess. Therefore, O.U.R.S. makes sense, doesn’t it?
All right, here’s the charge. Go out and get some brothers and sisters of like mind to start an O.U.R.S. fund. Name it something else if you like, but start a fund in your local community through which you can begin to move toward a modicum of self-sufficiency. We owe it to ourselves and our children to have some kind of economic tool that we have built and over which we have control.
Don’t wait. Don’t put this article down and say you will get around to it. Don’t procrastinate. Do it right now. Make a phone call to someone else and make a commitment to get it started right away. Solomon, the wisest man ever, said, “Money is the answer for all things.” Even with all of his smarts, he knew that, at least on this earthly plane, we could solve a lot of problems by having and controlling money. O.U.R.S., and other economic initiatives, will create the opportunity for us to do just that. Our dollars must start making some sense, y’all.
O.U.R.S. is now YOURS.
Books by James Clingman:
Black-O-Knowledge is to Blacks as the RED SEA was to the children of Israel-salvation. Jim, with his "cut through the chase" approach, lays it out so plainly that a child can grasp it.
Black people should be part of a "rainbow movement" and stand up for other "minorities" to achieve our economic goals. Right? Black people need more politicians who support our causes. Right? Black people should be incredibly proud every time we have another "first Black": a first BLACK CEO, a first Black politician, a first Black board member. Right? Black people should never let go of the dream that Martin Luther King had for the future of our people. Right?
Wrong! All Wrong!
In his provocative new book, Blackonomic$: The way to Psychological and Economic Freedom for African Americans, James Clingman disputes long-accepted and closely held beliefs about how to achieve black economic empowerment.
The author explains:
Blacks must help themselves before they can help other minorities.
Econmic power is more useful than political power.
Stop counting to one when Black people are appointed to certain positions "Call me when the number reaches 1,000".
It's time to stop dreaming it's time for action.
This outstanding array of "true freedom" messages is an absolute necessity for every Black American and an important lesson for all Americans.
James Clingman He is an Adjunct Professor, Univ. of Cincinnati, Dept. of African American Studies on "Black Entrepreneurship". He is the founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, served as its first Executive Director and President. Jim also writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column, Blackonomics, circulated via the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Watch for his column in your local newspaper. He is an Adjunct Professor, Univ. of Cincinnati, Dept. of African American Studies on "Black Entrepreneurship". He is the author of numerous books including the new book, Black O Knowledge. Contact him at P.O. Box 62642, Sharonville, OH 45262, (513) 489-4132.