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Jesse Jackson hosts annual Wall Street Economic Summit

Cyril Josh Barker | 2/13/2014, 11:02 a.m.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson wraps the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund's 17th annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit ...
Jesse Jackson with Editor-in-chief Elinor Tatum and Mayor Dinkins

The Rev. Jesse Jackson wraps the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund's 17th annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit today. The three-day summit was held at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel on Feb. 11-13 with the theme "50 Years After the Civil Rights Act: The Unfinished Agenda for Economic Justice,” focusing on home foreclosures, the decline in Black businesses and unemployment.

Jackson also marked 30 years since his Democratic presidential nomination in 1984. Several people who worked on his campaign discussed their work and how the campaign changed American politics.

The Wall Street Economic Summit brought together the nation’s leaders in political, corporate, entrepreneurial and other industries to Wall Street, all to discuss the economic congruity and concerns distinctive to African-American and Hispanic men and women and people of diverse cultures. The U.S. agriculture secretary and agriculture secretaries from several African countries will discuss investment opportunities and hunger in Africa.

This year's honorary co-chairs were Rep. Yvette D. Clarke and Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Macy’s Inc. General Motors hosted a Media Day focusing on opportunities for minority media with the automaker, and Houston Style magazine served as a promotional media sponsor.

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Rainbow PUSH 17th Annual Wall Street Economic Summit

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“For more than 50 years, Black Americans have increased their buying power from $37 billion to over a trillion dollars. But our consumerism has not translated into a fair share of contracts and jobs with corporate America,” said Jackson. “Income inequality is a growing concern, and the financial crisis didn’t help. In the U.S., the wealthiest 1 percent grabbed 95 percent of the post-2009 growth, and the bottom 90 percent became poorer. While financial transactions are of particular interest to the Wall Street Project, there is increasing concern generally about lack of opportunity.”

A report was released on 160 major corporations’ use of minority broker dealer firms and the implications of the findings. The findings include that 33 percent of all African-Americans own smartphones and use double the mobile phone minutes as whites do, yet when Verizon did the biggest corporate bond offering in history last September, no minority banks or broker dealers were used. Fees of $265 million went to a handful of majority-owned banks.

The Wall Street Project Career Symposium was held during the summit on Tuesday. The three-part career management session aimed to strengthen professional employees with empowering tools, resources, skill sets and insights on new realities for creating and managing employment and career opportunities in today’s highly technical work environment.

“The companies that we use—like Twitter, Apple and Google—we trade with them, and they don't trade with us,” Jackson told the AmNews. “Not a single Black on their boards. We want to talk about advertising in Black-owned media with companies where we purchase products from. It’s about fair equity in the economic arena.”

Also on Tuesday, Jackson honored several Black media outlets, including the Amsterdam News, Johnson Publishing Company, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Daily Challenge and Positive Community.

Jackson said he honored the media outlets because they allow the Black point of view to be heard.

“They will always fill a significant niche that must be respected. These papers need subscribers and ads, and we must support these publications in concrete terms,” he said.

Sessions were held on the business of hip-hop and sports. In the evening, the annual scholarship gala was held, called “Wall Street Goes Uptown to Harlem.” The gala featured entertainment from the cast of the current Broadway hit musical “After Midnight” and a taste of Harlem from several popular Harlem restaurants.