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During Black History Month, we honor the landmark achievements of the African-American community—in entertainment and the arts, politics and government, and, of course, business and entrepreneurship.
Minority-owned enterprises have powered productivity and economic growth, expanding jobs and opportunity for all Americans. Today, we recognize the men and women who built these businesses from the ground up. Their invaluable contributions to our society remind us that promoting greater inclusion and diversity is not just a moral imperative but an economic necessity.
Our history holds countless examples of African-American innovators who overcame formidable odds to build successful companies. Take Madam C.J. Walker, who faced sexism and racial prejudice at every turn but still managed to launch a highly profitable cosmetics line, becoming the country’s first female self-made millionaire. Or consider Garrett Morgan, a visionary businessman who surmounted tremendous obstacles at the peak of segregation to create the modern traffic light, an invention that alone has saved millions of lives.
From George Washington Carver to George Foreman, our country has a powerful legacy of African-American entrepreneurship. Building on that legacy is essential to ushering in a new era of innovation and opportunity. That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is committed to fostering diversity in the workplace and championing policies that support minority-owned businesses.
A more inclusive economy means more ideas, more talent, and more opportunity for everyone. According to a groundbreaking study from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the American economy stands to gain $8 trillion by the year 2050 simply by closing the racial equity gap. To help close this gap, we’re encouraging equality through several strategic partnerships and programs. This includes a $1 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that has helped facilitate a dialogue in the business community on the benefits of racial equity and how best to achieve it.
The Chamber is also partnering with Howard University and other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions to promote diversity across all levels of business. Through our Next-Gen Business Partnership, for example, we are introducing some of the nation’s top students to new career opportunities in business. And in cooperation with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), we are working to strengthen the growth and competitiveness of minority-owned enterprises.
Building diversity is the right thing to do, and it is smart for business. To honor Americans of every color, class, and creed, we will continue to champion the inclusive policies that extend freedom and economic opportunity to all.