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BELOIT — Those with Beloit Black Wall Street Inc. offered a way for the Black community in Beloit and South Beloit to increase employment, home and business ownership and health by offering residents the opportunity to become members or shareholders in the community-owned company.

“We have to start creating and building things for ourselves. If we want to uplift and grow, we have to keep our dollars here,” said entrepreneur Tracy Dumas.

Beloit Black Wall Street’s offerings were shared Sunday evening at a Black town hall meeting at The W.B. Kennedy Lodge.

The meeting was hosted by Rising Queens Inc., Center for Truth and Healing and Beloit Black Wall Street Inc. Entrepreneurs Shanta Lana Hereford and Dumas presented. The evening included a meal for guests as well as an appearance and a call to action by State Rep. Shelia Stubbs, D-Madison.

Anyone can be a member to Beloit Black Wall Street for free and receive a monthly newsletter and get upcoming event notifications. Paid memberships are $5 for individuals and $10 for families per year. The basic membership will give members access to a Black newspaper, access to all of Beloit Black Wall Street’s programs and services such as youth, senior and fitness activities in addition to information on its investment opportunities.

“The fees we are collecting will keep these programs free,” Hereford said.

The Black Wall Street Platinum Black card membership is $25 per person to get a discount on black business services, a free digital copy of the newspaper, the ability to post and search for job opportunities and more.

On Aug. 15 an online Zoom meeting will be presented for members-only where the first investment offerings will be discussed. To learn more people can visit beloitblackwallstreet.com. Funds will be raised via Crowd WallStreet, a crowdfunding platform.

Once the funds are raised Beloit Black Wall Street plans to invest in the following: 40% real estate; 20% business acquisition; 15% black entrepreneurship 15% franchises; and 10% community fund.

Other plans are as follows: Simply Social Seniors will begin this month for those age 55 and over; The Y Project! will help youth explore various careers, arts and recreation; The Beloit Black Voice Podcast and Newspaper will launch; and free community fitness classes will be offered for Beloit Black Wall Street members. Services will also include education assistance, free workshops, an entrepreneurship empowerment series and a ask-a-Black-nurse program.

Hereford said when it comes to businesses, Black people hire other Blacks and supporting Black businesses will be key to helping the community

During a question and answer session with the crowd, there was discussion that churches can do more to empower the Black community as they have non-profit status, classrooms, outside space and Dumas said more Blacks should be on city council to provide better representation.

“Beloit deserves to do better,” Stubbs said. “The time for change is now. Beloit Black Wall Street will be an integral part of change.”

Stubbs said she was committed and encouraged the crowd to get involved.

“Our community is not suffering from a lack of talent, we are suffering from a lack of opportunities,” Stubbs said.

When Hereford came back to Beloit, she said she saw a lot of development going on and heard plans for the casino, but didn’t see much for Blacks and saw Beloit had a lack of affordable housing.

Greenwood Rising, a museum located in the heart of the historic Greenwood district in Tulsa, opened to the public on Wednesday.

The 11,000 square-foot museum features three multimedia exhibits that tell the story of Black Wall Street. The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission started planning and fundraising for it in 2018.

Greenwood Rising Museum isn’t just about telling the story of the 1921 Race Massacre, though. It’s about celebrating the history of Oklahoma’s Black citizens, successes and struggles from 1865 to today.

Phil Armstrong, the interim director of the museum, said at one point, Oklahoma was a paradise for Black citizens who could own land and buy businesses.

“The real magic of Greenwood Rising is a discussion space called ‘the journey to reconciliation’ where people will be able to sit, have discussions — let’s talk about where we are, what have we learned from the past,” Armstrong said.

For the first year, there will be no admission charge to Greenwood Rising. Visitors are advised to book ahead for tours on the website at greenwoodrising.org/visit.

If you’re driving down Prairie Avenue in Beloit, you will find one of three Black-owned businesses owned by Byron Matthews and his wife Cristy. They operate and own Matthews Family Trucking, clothing store B&C Fitz, and B&C Hand Car Wash. In addition, there will be a sports bar coming soon.

The Matthews value family and community and want to change negative perspectives of Black businesses.

“When you come to a Beloit, you see all these businesses and stuff, but you don’t see us unless you know it’s a Black business,” said Byron Matthews. “That’s why I have our brand going up everywhere. I want them to see us … let them know we’re here and running good legitimate Black businesses. That’s always been a dream of mine. I just want to create a better business image of Black businesses.”

Their businesses are family-owned and operated. Matthews has businesses operated by relatives including his son, father-in-law, and his wife. Outside of the family, his businesses employ 30 people. He and his wife are running their businesses with their own revenue because, Matthews says, banks don’t provide financial support to all businesses.

“These banks aren’t loaning to Black folks. I’m doing all this out of this success of my trucking company,” said Matthews. “I mean every time you go into a bank, I hit him with the business proposal, and they say I’ve been in operation for a year. But my numbers don’t lie. My trucking company is doing amazing. And it has allowed me to open up these other businesses.”

B&C Hand Car Wash, located at 2250 Prairie Avenue, is now open Mondays-Saturdays from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. They wash cars, SUVS, boats, semi-trucks, and motorcycles. Matthews emphasized the importance of Black businesses catering to all businesses. He wants Black businesses to support other Black businesses, while the community and residents support all businesses, creating revenue flow throughout the city. His goal is to recreate the Black Wall Street of Tulsa in Beloit.

“Opening all these Black businesses here in Beloit with the image of us is important,” said Matthews. “Come in and support us. Not just because I’m Black, but because I have good business and good service. Because I’m providing something for our community. And it’s a circle. If we invest in each other, we can keep going around and around.”

The Matthews are trying to provide Beloit with something special with their businesses. Mr. Matthews is a Chicago native and moved to Beloit to provide a safer and better life for his children. He and his wife have been in Beloit for years and invest in their community through donations at schools and other programs. They are in Beloit for the long run and have great businesses and services to provide to the area.

“We are here,” said Byron Matthews. “They know we are here, but I want them to see that we’re here. There’s no difference between us and them. We have good business and I want them to see us. That’s it.”

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -Meeting the needs of Black and other under-served minorities in our community. That’s the goal of Black Wall Street Reno, which just received a large donation, the non profit is on South Wells Avenue.

Another charity, Thank You Ma’am, presented the founders with a check for $10,500. That equals 105 members of Thank You Ma’am, donating 100 dollars each. Founder Mignon Lagatta tells us, “Their cause is amazing, unlike any case that we’ve seen since we started Thank you Ma’am and one that the community really really needs.” Her Reno chapter raises money for worthy causes while connecting women with other women.

Black Wall Street Reno has big plans as Co-Founder RoMar Tolliver explains, “From the literacy program to outreach, social events to get the kids more engaged and get off their phones and yeah, just engage in some personal development and positive mindsets “

Black Wall Street Reno says its hopeful to have a bigger building, to offer more of a safe space to keep young kids off the street and out of trouble.

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 22, 2020

CONTACT:
Erica Nelson, Kids Count and Race to Equity Project Director
enelson@kidsforward.org, (608) 284-0580 x-321
Ken Taylor, Kids Forward Executive Director
ktaylor@kidsforward.org, (608) 284-0580 x-302

PDF Version

MADISON, Wisconsin — The annual KIDS COUNT® Data Book is released today, revealing a concerning picture and showing investment is needed for Wisconsin’s African American children and families to thrive. The Data Book provides a snapshot of well-being for African American youth and families in Wisconsin. As we reckon with COVID-19 disproportionately impacting African Americans, and a wave of powerful organized resistance to the systemic oppression that has harmed African Americans for generations, this data serves as a baseline for what children and families were experiencing as we entered these unprecedented times. Data is collected on health, economic, education, and family and community indicators. Even before the events of 2020, rankings for Wisconsin’s children revealed a concerning picture, especially for our African American children. KIDS COUNT indicators show that not only were our state’s African American children experiencing larger barriers than their white peers, but most indicators of well-being for African American children in Wisconsin were more severe compared to the national average for African American children. In other words, Wisconsin continues to lag behind other states in addressing racial inequities.

Child poverty rates rose sharply among African American children in Wisconsin, from 36% in 2017 to 42% in 2018. The opposite occurred for African American children nationwide – child poverty dropped from 33% to 32%. The following 2018 indicators for Wisconsin’s African American children reflect a similar pattern:

  • over half (51%) lived in families with parents lacking secure employment, compared to 41% of African American children nationwide;
  • over half (51%) lived in families spending over thirty percent of their income on housing, compared to 44% of African American children nationwide;
  • close to half (43%) lived in high poverty areas, compared to 26% of African American children nationwide.

These experiences are in stark contrast to indicators of well-being for white children. Economic indicators were commonly three to four times more severe for African American children and families in Wisconsin than for white children and families. Compared to white children:

  • child poverty rates were close to five times higher for African American children in 2018;
  • the percentage of children in families with parents lacking secure employment was three times higher for African American children, and this disparity was the same for children in families with high housing cost burdens;
  • the percentage of African American babies born at low birthweights was two and a half times higher in 2018;
  • the percentage of African American students not graduating on time was five times higher.

Perhaps most striking when comparing these indicators was the fact that in 2018, 43% of Wisconsin’s African American children lived in high poverty areas, compared to only 1% of their white peers. In addition, African American children were also experiencing higher barriers than other children of color on the majority of indicators tracked by the KIDS COUNT Data Book.

However, some indicators show that progress was gained or maintained for Wisconsin’s African American youth. Though still far higher than the state average, the rate of African American child and teen deaths and the percentage of African American students not graduating on time decreased from 2017 to 2018. Access to health insurance continued to be high among African American children, with only 2% lacking health insurance. This high rate of children’s coverage has not prevented African Americans in Wisconsin from experiencing disproportionate harm from COVID-19, however, as Kids Forward recently outlined (https://kidsforward.org/both-essential-and-expendable/).

Meaningful changes on many of these indicators were rare for Wisconsin’s children and families collectively, however. There was no change on the four state economic indicators from 2017 to 2018. There was also no change on the percentage of Wisconsin babies born at low birthweights. Wisconsin’s ranking of the percentage of children without health insurance only changed from 18th to 17th this year, and we still have work to do to ensure that all children can access medical care. Though Wisconsin’s rank on education indicators improved from 15th to 9th this year, this may be due to outcomes for other states dropping, rather than a signal of positive advances. For example, the percentage of Wisconsin fourth graders scoring below proficient in reading changed only 1% (from 65% in 2017 to 64% in 2019). The fact that Wisconsin’s ranking on this indicator changed from 30th to 16th suggests the educational picture in other states is even more concerning. Similarly, for math, 61% of eighth graders scored below proficient in 2017, and 59% in 2019, as our state’s rank changed from 10th to 4th. Consequently, we must double our support for our students in these unprecedented times, to create real educational advancements and ensure Wisconsin’s children furthest from opportunity have the same chance to thrive.

Early learning sets the foundation for positive achievements across the lifespan. The need to support our child care workforce has never been clearer than during the COVID pandemic, as caregivers are expected to continue working both without child care providers, and without child care from older generations. As Kids Forward outlined in a recent report, access to high quality subsidized child care can differ for African American and White children in Wisconsin  (https://kidsforward.org/achieving-equity-in-early-learning/). Under-resourced schools have scrambled to recreate their classrooms online, and many children are left without access to the necessary technology at home that their opportunities for learning now depend on. Maintaining housing may be a substantial family stressor when there is dwindling income.

As Wisconsin faces the twin challenges of COVID-19 and economic recession, we must take action to move toward a future that prioritizes people of color, the marginalized, the most vulnerable, and the oppressed. Now is the time to fight for greater child care funding, and changes to school funding formulas that leave children in less wealthy areas with fewer resources for learning. Now is the time to fight for comprehensive health care and ensure that everyone has access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage. Now is the time to fight for Black Lives, to meaningfully transform structures and policies that allowed the barriers experienced by African American children and families in our state to continue uninterrupted for far too long. For the sake of our children and our future, Kids Forward calls on our policy makers and stakeholders to advocate for the following:

  • Ensure equitable statewide access to COVID-19 testing, health care, and treatment.
  • Reform unemployment insurance to cover all workers, and make sure they don’t lose benefits if they don’t agree to return to an unsafe work environment.
  • Eliminate delays and regulations in all benefit programs that make it more difficult for families to receive urgently needed support.
  • Reduce overincarceration and the severe racial inequities within the criminal justice system, which hollow-out entire communities, and re-invest those resources in family and community strengthening supports.
  • Increase access to high-quality, affordable early education for all children.
  • Raise Wisconsin’s minimum wage and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to help combat poverty among children and families.
  • Expand affordable housing initiatives.
  • Fully expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, to add an affordable coverage option helping thousands of people across the state and saving millions in state funds.
  • Ensure that the 2020 Census counts all children, especially those under 5 years old and those from hard-to-count communities.
  • Correct the systemic issues surrounding programs and policies that create and perpetuate disparate outcomes for Wisconsin’s children of color.

The indicators outlined in the 2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book help to show the many ways in which we as a state are failing our children, particularly our African American children. The paths to progress will be reflected in our state and local budgets. We must continue to invest in our youth, and believe in a future that is data-informed, thriving, equitable, and inclusive. Now is the time to ensure that state investments deliver what children need to reach their full potential, particularly African American children and families, and those furthest from opportunity.

Release Information
The 2020 KIDS COUNT® Data Book will be available June 22 at 12:01 a.m. ET at http://www.aecf.org. Additional information is available at http://www.aecf.org/databook. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about the Data Book® can use the KIDS COUNT Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org.

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About Kids Forward
Kids Forward advocates for effective, long-lasting solutions that break down barriers to success for children and families in Wisconsin. Using research and a community-informed approach, Kids Forward works to help every kid, every family, and every community thrive.