Business

Blackonomics: Black churches develop revolutionary plan to fund Black colleges

On October 15, 2002, I sat in a Philadelphia sanctuary, along with more than 1,000 other mourners, to celebrate the life of Kenneth Bridges, a modern-day Marcus Garvey and co-founder of the MATAH Network. As you know, Ken was one of the persons killed during the 23 days of sniper terror in the Washington, D.C. area. On October 15, 2002, I sat in a Philadelphia sanctuary, along with more than 1,000 other mourners, to celebrate the life of Kenneth Bridges, a modern-day Marcus Garvey and co-founder of the MATAH Network. As you know, Ken was one of the persons killed during the 23 days of sniper terror in the Washington, D.C. area.

Exactly one year later, I sat in a Winston-Salem, North Carolina sanctuary to again celebrate the legacy of Ken Bridges. I watched and listened as at least 40 Black church leaders and Black college presidents publicly announced a self-empowering strategy to fund North Carolina’s 11 Black colleges. The name of this new organization is North Carolina Black Churches for North Carolina Black Colleges, or NCBC2.

This is truly an economic movement we can all relate to, get excited about, and one in which we can participate as well. Here we have churches from all of the major cities in North Carolina collaborating in an effort to add $11 million to the coffers of Black colleges and universities, not just for one year but perpetually. To make it even more exciting these church officials are not asking their members to ante up more money; they are simply asking them to "redirect" a small portion of their everyday spending to a Black owned business – The MATAH Network.

If you read this column on a regular basis you know about the MATAH Network, but just in case this is your first time, the MATAH Network is the only Black-owned and operated channel of distribution in the United States. It creates opportunities for Black manufacturers and producers to get their products to market. MATAH also helps create employment opportunities and serves as a vehicle through which entrepreneurs can not only build wealth but retain it as well. MATAH is a people, a business, and a movement.

The churches, working within MATAH’s One Church – One Channel Program, devised by Father George Clements, have crossed denominational lines to embark on a mission that will go down in history the same way Black churches of the 1700’s and 1800’s made history by establishing and supporting Black colleges. These churches have taken up the gauntlet thrown down by their predecessors to once again will do what is necessary for the benefit our progeny.

The schools to receive the funds are Barber Scotia, Bennett, Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, Johnson C. Smith, Livingstone, A&T State, North Carolina Central, Saint Augustine, Shaw, and Winston-Salem State. While $1 million per school is the initial goal, NCBC2 has the potential to expand its funding capacity on an exponential basis. As church members continue to purchase MATAH-distributed laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, body lotions and oils, Grenada Nutmeg Oil for topical pain relief, Mariandina nutritional products, and other MATAH products, the NCBC2 fund increases and perpetuates.

There’s more: North Carolina is just one state; this group of Black churches comprises only a small percentage of our churches in this country. In addition to church organizations, there are hundreds of Black organizations in this country that could, if they would just act on this very practical and simple strategy, create a revenue source that will allow them to move away from being mired in the fund-raising mode and spend more time fulfilling their missions.

I am proud to have been among those strong, committed, and resolute brothers and sisters who stood up publicly and proclaimed their love and concern for our youth and for our revered educational institutions. I am proud to have witnessed, just one year after the transition of our dear brother Ken Bridges, men and women acting in the tradition that Ken left behind.

It made me feel so good to hear the president of Bennett College, Johnetta Cole, speak so eloquently about the MATAH – Church partnership. It was fantastic to hear

November 3, 2003
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