Insight News

Feb 11th

Supermarkets and the Black consumer

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In preamble to its visit from Congresswoman Eva Clayton (D-NC), the Oct. 29 Insight/Public Policy Forum honored the memory of Senator Paul Wellstone. In preamble to its visit from Congresswoman Eva Clayton (D-NC), the Oct. 29 Insight/Public Policy Forum honored the memory of Senator Paul Wellstone. Joining host Al McFarlane, Insight News Group CEO/President were the Rev. Ranolph Staten, Co-chair of the Coalition of Black Churches/African American Leadership Summit; the Rev. Jerry McAfee of New Salem Baptist Church and Angela Burkhalter of the DFL Party. Staten, whom Wellstone chose to represent Minnesota’s religious communities in Washington, D.C.,, stated, “Paul Wellstone came from struggle, dealing with [important] questions. Paul was not a politician. Paul was a statesman.”

Congresswoman Clayton then joined the proceedings via video conference for global webcast. From Vance Granville Community College in North Carolina, she spoke at length about the topic of opportunities for African Americans in the supermarket industry. She addressed the role businesses should play in general problem-solving across the African Diaspora and the role it should play resolve the Diaspora’s poverty issues. Acknowledging the tribute to Wellstone, Congresswoman Clayton added, “He cared about the small guy, the average guy. In fact, he cared about human rights, period.”

Recapping from her Oct. 8 video conferencing appearance at the Forum, Clayton talked about why it’s important for Black Americans to pursue economic self-empowerment by selling goods and services to the supermarket industry. “We had the opportunity to bring major executives of the industry together,” she said, referring to a Sept. 17 roundtable convened at the House of Representatives to identify business opportunities for African Americans in the food industry. “[It was] to find out how minorities, small businesses and farmers could be a part of that great industry. Agriculture in itself is [a significant percentage] of our total economy. When you [consider] the grocery market industry, you recognize it affects everyone. And that it’s an ever-growing industry that there’s going to be a demand for. All of us must eat.”

She said African Americans can also provide the industry such vital services as non-food products, security, construction, consulting firms and more. “[It’s important to] bring the opportunity home to small businesses. We shouldn’t underestimate the wide opportunities we have. You don’t need to be a farmer to sell to [the industry].”

The panel at Lucille’s Kitchen in North Minneapolis consisted of William English, co-chair Coalition of Black Churches/African American Leadership Summit, Silas Houston, Economic Development Office for the Minneapolis NAACP and Bobby Joe Champion, Executive Director of the Metropolitan African and African American Chamber of Commerce

English shared that a collection of Black Twin Cities organizations, including the NAACP and the African American Chamber of Commerce, have decided to embark on a series of fair-share initiative forums to examine several industries, including the food industry in Minnesota. He added that among the corporations that will be invited to the forums are Land O’ Lakes and Pepsi Cola to “discuss with our community how African Americans fit into the corporation’s plans in terms of employment, representation on their boards of directors, in terms of construction of their stores and their advertising in the Black media. These are the issues we want to discuss with them.”

Houston spoke of economic development being a priority at the Minneapolis NAACP. “[We’re] really interested in the doing pro-active things around economic development. One of the things we’re going to try to further and get people to understand is [that] we have economic power. We don’t have to wait to get it, we just have to learn how to use it in a positive fashion.”

Reflecting on the importance of strengthening Black-owned businesses, Champion em

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