By Karen Stokes
“The lack of economic and business power in the Black community is the single most salient, destructive and self perpetuated problem the Black community faces and still the most ignored,” said Maggie Anderson at TEDx Grand Rapids.
Milwaukee Urban League and St. Mark AME Church are co-sponsors for the upcoming Black Business program where Anderson will be the keynote speaker.
In 2009, Margarita (Maggie) Anderson made history and headlines while living in the Chicago suburbs with her husband John and their two daughters. As an experiment Anderson and her family bought primarily all their goods and services from Black owned businesses for a full year. The historic journey and new awareness on how Black owned business affects the Black community led her to write her book, “Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy.” Through this experience, Maggie and John found that some things that they needed were difficult to find within Black owned businesses. They also found that Black people patronized with Black businesses less than other ethnic groups patronized within their own group.
“We used to have tons of Black businesses in the early 1900’s up to the 1960’s. We had everything, grocery stores, hardware stores, banks, insurance companies right in the neighborhood,” said Anderson during a radio interview with Steve Bertrand on Books. “The other thing that happened during that time is that we didn’t have all the social crises that we have in the community now. So we had the businesses and we had the self sustaining community and we had that pride.”
Maggie, who is Afro-Cuban, was born in 1971 in Miami, Florida. She earned degrees at Emory University in Atlanta and University of Chicago. Anderson also studied constitutional law at Chicago Law School under then Professor Barack Obama. Anderson has participated in political campaigns for Representative John Lewis, Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell and Barack Obama’s campaign for U.S. Senate.
Anderson has appeared on FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, BET and Centric. She has also been featured in Black Enterprise, New York Times, Upscale and Essence magazine. In an interview in Essence Magazine, Anderson says, “The book does have a very pointed message intended for Black people. We already have everything we need to make our community and underserved neighborhoods better—we just have to believe in and support each other.”
Maggie and her husband are the co-founders of The Empowerment Experiment Foundation. This foundation studies and facilitates economic development in underserved minority communities by self-help, economic conscious consumerism, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, business diversity and inclusion.
“Maggie was a guest speaker at one of our Milwaukee Urban League functions several years ago and she made a very dynamic and compelling case as to why it is important for communities to support their Black businesses,” said Ralph Hollmon, president and CEO of Milwaukee Urban League. “We thought that some of her experiences would be valuable information to give to our community.”
Anderson will be the Keynote Speaker for the Black Business Week at St. Mark, A.M.E. Church, 1616 W. Atkinson Ave. on Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 11:00 AM. Sessions are free. For more information call 414-562-8030.