Historian John William Templeton and engineer Frederick E. Jordan Sr founded the 13th annual National Black Business Month each August in 2004 to drive the policy agenda affecting the 2.6 million African-American businesses. Terry Lorant Photo for Black Enterprise  In the background, the T Line in San Francisco has the worst performance in the SFMTA system.  Instead of the scheduled runs every 12 minutes, residents of the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood can wait as long as 63 minutes or longer when the S.F. Giants are playing and face "switchbacks" in which the train turns around before reaching the historically black neighborhood and dumps them out on the sidewalk.

Co-founders object to Bay Area transit inequity

SAN FRANCISCO --The co-founders of the 13th annual National Black Business Month made dual filings with the Department of Transportation to object to inequity in contracting, operations and environmental justice by Bay Area regional and transit agencies.

Frederick E. Jordan, Sr. P.E., also president of the San Francisco African-American Chamber of Commerce, asked Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to reject a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Waiver from S.F, Municipal Transporation Agency which asserted that there were so few African-American businesses in the city that it should not have to meet goals for utilizing them.

John William Templeton filed a Title VI complaint against the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, SFMTA and the cities of Menlo Park and Mountain View for ignoring regional standards for matching housing and transit demand, environmental justice policies and a personal incident in which a  bus operator refused to pick him and two other African-Americans up while opening the doors for three whites.

Jordan and Templeton started National Black Business Month each August in 2004 to raise the profile of the 2.6 million African-American businesses, particularly policies which can aid their growth   Templeton publishes the State of Black Business each year with a Black Business Affinity Index that rates each state for their friendliness to black entrepreneurship.

Jordan wrote: " We were therefore surprised to learn that the SFMTA disparity study did not identify statistically significant disparities between the availability of African American-owned professional services firms and the utilization of such firms sufficient to warrant implementation of a race conscious DBE program for those businesses.   The failure of the study to identify discrimination against African American professional services firms is simply not consistent with the experiences of our members."

Templeton called the decline in population the deliberate effect of transit inequity on a regional scale, citing drops of 30 percent in the black populations of Menlo Park and San Francisco since 2010, and pointed to the disparity between concerns voiced by Bayview-Hunters Point residents in 2013 about slow transit service during San Francisco Giants games and a 2015 Planning Dept. letter which asserted there would be no disruptions in service because of an additional Warriors Event Center.  Of 200 SF Muni capital projects, not one is designed to increase mobility for African-Americans, who use public transit at a higher ratio than any other group in San Francisco.  

 
 
 

Getting Even with Equity

Just weeks before the first National Black Business Month in 2004, co-founder John William Templeton got the call most African-Americans dread -- that his younger brother had died in police custody.   For the first time in 13 years, he discusses those feelings in a special Black Voices, Black Lives section for the San Franicsco Chronicle.

As tens of thousands seek to #DemonstratewithDollars during the 13th annual National Black Business Month or #DemonstratewithDining  during #EatBlackDays Aug. 25-28, Templeton has a perspective on those emotions.

"When the reality of making a living overwhelms your anger, one needs a positive reason to show you're right by supporting black businesses all year round.

Here are several reasons which you may not have thought about:

Averting Consumer Racial Profiling -- The financial, retail and online behemoths have turned to mathematical formulas to make many decisions which affect your consumer experience from cashing a check to receiving discounts and delivery or even your ability to stay in a given lodging --somethnig we thought we won back in the 1960s.  The worst financial calamity since the Great Depression occurred because of these algorithms, which targeted African-Americans for predatory loans.  The same "quants" are hard at work in every industry now.  When websites capture as many as 200 different facts about you to sell to marketers, you are at their mercy.  Using bankblack.info or BlackRestaurant.NET to find financial services or food avoids that invasion of your privacy.  It is much easier to detect patterns of discrimination when black consumers are aggregated at black financial institutions like the members of the National Bankers Association.

Black businesses have your back -- The day to day work of fighting discrimination happens in long, boring meetings of government bodies and private institutions which you don't even know exist.  For instance, the $20 billion to be distributed in Gulf States from the BP Horizon spills is about to be disbursed.  Black business leaders are the people with the experience and standing to fight for equity in these proceedings.  We prepared the voluminous Our10Plan: State of Black Business, 13th edition, to give them a reference guide to work from.  Fred Jordan and I spent long hours fighting Prop. 209, the anti-affirmative action initiative, 20 years ago, but  we didn't hang our heads because of that defeat.   Just last year, Fred won a decision by the California High Speed Rail Authority to set a goal of 30 percent of procurement with minority and women owned businesses.   We can't fight those battles without your patronage.

People See You Through Us -- Donald Trump says things most white people think.  When he dismissed our situation as "what do you have to lose," he wasn't thinking about black business owners with huge market share.  That's why you have to change the perception that all we do is spend.  I've spent most of my career either working for black businesses or owning one.  One gets treated differently, but even more so when customers are demonstrating their support.