On Thursday, September 20, 2012 Industrial Bank hosted a book signing for Maggie Anderson, author of "Our Black Year - One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy," at its Georgia Avenue branch. The purpose of the event was to draw attention to Ms. Anderson's book, insights resulting from her research and the implications for the Black community.
For one year, Ms. Anderson, her husband John Anderson, and their two daughters vowed their family would try to patronize only black-owned businesses in the Chicago area. It was with that commitment that the "Empowerment Experiment" was born.
They were so dedicated to this effort that even minor tasks became major. A simple trip to buy groceries turned into a 14-mile odyssey. What was once convenient quickly became inconvenient, but the family felt the trade-off was worth it. "We have the real power to do something, to use the money we spend every day to solve our problems," Ms. Anderson said. But the message here is not just anybody's problem; she is referring to our problems, in our community.
"In the most diverse communities and predominantly White suburbs, the dollar is recycled several times, sustaining the neighborhood, funding the schools, empowering the community for 7 - 29 days. The Black consumer dollar stays in the Black community for only six hours!"
In both her book and her riveting presentation, Ms. Anderson urges consumers to seek out and support Black-owned businesses. She also expresses the need for corporate America to involve more Black firms in their supply chains, and engage more Black franchisees, suppliers, dealers, and vendors.
"The idea is a sound one, given that black Americans are still underrepresented in the ranks of the self-employed and that entrepreneurship is a key component to wealth," said Gregory Price, chairman of the economics department at Morehouse College.
Ms. Anderson argues that the social crises that disproportionately impact Black people and underserved Black neighborhoods could be countered through "conscious consumerism" – her phrase for supporting businesses that empower struggling communities.
If attendance was to be used as an indication of the audience's interest, one would have to say Ms. Anderson was certainly operating within her wheelhouse, as she presented to a standing room only crowd. Event attendees included Cathy Hughes – Radio One Founder, Chairperson of the Board and Secretary; Ron Busby – President of the United States Black Chamber, Inc.; and Michael Grant – President of the National Bankers Association to name just a few.
Ms. Anderson is a respected leader in the Chicago business community, Mrs. Anderson has a BA in Political Science from Emory University, an MBA in Economics and Strategy from the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School.
Prior to founding "EE", Mrs. Anderson held leadership roles at McDonalds Corporation where she developed, presented, and implemented influential growth strategies and venture plans in the areas of diversity, emergent industries and global markets, market segmentation, communications, business intelligence, and corporate responsibility.