Honoring Civil Rights Era Economic Initiatives During Black History Month

For centuries, systemic and structural racism has restricted economic progress for Black Americans, exacerbated the U.S.’s Black-white wealth gap and perpetuated fundamental racial injustice. Black History Month allows us to revisit the struggles and efforts to right the wrongs of racism while recommitting to our organizational objectives.

JumpStart works to provide inclusive, accessible business growth resources to Black, Latino/Hispanic and women–led companies that help bridge disparity gaps and amplify the impact these entrepreneurs have on their communities. We believe key drivers to this work include representation and proximity to the challenge.

While the Civil Rights era is more widely known for activism, protests and legislative initiatives to dismantle segregation and discrimination, there were also concerted efforts at that time to improve economic conditions for African Americans and to secure a place for Black-owned businesses in the U.S. economy.


National Negro Business League (NNBL)

Founded in 1900 by Booker T. Washington, the National Negro Business League (NNBL) was one of the earliest organizations created to support African American businesses. While its origins predate the Civil Rights Era, the organization remained influential during this time; promoting economic empowerment and offering resources, networking opportunities and advocacy to help black-owned businesses thrive. In 1966, the NNBL was renamed the National Business League.


National Urban League

Founded in 1910, the National Urban League focused on improving the economic and educational well-being of African Americans. The Urban League’s programs and initiatives often supported Black business owners and professionals by providing job training, education and employment opportunities, which supported entrepreneurial ventures.


The Opportunities Industrialization Centers (OIC)

Founded in 1964 by Rev. Leon H. Sullivan in Philadelphia, the Opportunities Industrialization Centers focused on vocational training and employment for African Americans. While its primary mission was to combat unemployment and provide job training, the skills and opportunities it also empowered participants to start their own businesses and encouraged the exploration of entrepreneurial activities.


National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)

Founded in 1972, the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) is the longest-operating business growth engine for a broad group of systematically excluded communities of color including Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic and Native American. Not solely focused on the supply chain, NMSDC works to correct the unequal access to wealth-building opportunities so all Americans can participate fully in the U.S. economy.


As an organization providing entrepreneurial support services to local startups and small businesses, we remain humbled by the leaders who came before. Building on the legacy of these organizations and programs, we continue to strengthen our entrepreneurial ecosystem – driving wealth creation and generating regional sustainability.


Posted in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion