Mayor Eric Adams joined civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in celebrating the 25th annual Wall Street Project Summit in Manhattan this Monday. This year’s shortened two-day convention brought together a diverse array of entrepreneurs and corporate executives to discuss creating more business and job opportunities for Black and Brown communities.

Jackson, 80, founded the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Wall Street Project. He attended and spoke at the in-person events held at the Sheraton Hotel near Times Square.

“I had five weeks that I couldn’t talk nor walk, but I’m going to beat Parkinson’s, y’all,” said Jackson as he stood at the podium. Last year, Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, both tested positive for COVID-19 and were hospitalized in Northwestern University Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Though vaccinated, Jackson’s pre-existing Parkinson’s disease was “aggravated” and he spent about a week in a rehab and physical therapy center relearning how to walk and talk, said Forbes.

“I am who I am because of the relationship I have had with Reverend Jackson,” said Adams at the luncheon. Adams was a member of the Black United Front in 1984 and was a mentee of Jackson’s. “It’s amazing what you can learn just holding someone’s coat.”

Adams said that though Jackson or Shirley Chisholm did not win the presidency, the campaigns “planted the seed of possibilities” for people like him to run and break political color barriers. Adams said he was eager to create more financial and technology jobs in the city and educate youth on how to attain them.

“We need your help in taking the Wall Street Project and ensuring that we help people that are in the projects,” said Adams.

Jackson founded the Wall Street Project and the Citizenship Education Fund in 1996. It was launched by 1997, on Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. The project aimed to challenge corporate America’s biases on building Black wealth, and end the trade deficit with minority vendors and consumers. It worked to ensure that equal opportunities for people of color and culturally diverse employees, businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers were always at the forefront of its mission.

The morning events focused on labor and mission-driven diversity broker deals that could build financial equity opportunities for Black and Brown investors. In the afternoon there was a luncheon with distinguished speakers and guests, and the event capped with a Hip Hop at 50 panel on the evolution of the Black music genre over the last several decades. The second day consisted of all virtual sessions on topics such as attracting foreign investments during the COVID-19 pandemic and the business of sports.

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w

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