On Tuesday, August 15th, Black El Paso Voice, The Black Roundtable, and El Paso Black Business Network received the proclamation for Black Business Month from Mayor Oscar Leeser and City Representatives.
Dear Citizens of El Paso,
We are halfway through Black Business Month, and a vigorous call for progress reverberates throughout our city. As proud citizens and dedicated business proprietors, we unite under a common banner that promotes growth, empowerment, and unity. We shed light on an imperative change, one that is poised to elevate not just a few but our entire community.
As we honor the vital essence of Black Business Month, our perspective transcends mere commemoration. We are moving from celebration to collaboration. We invite you to partake in this shared journey, wherein we contribute to constructing a more fantastic future in El Paso. Our purpose isn’t confined to celebration; it thrives on action, innovation, and the belief that together, we can create a path to true excellence.
Only a short while ago, Black El Paso Voice highlighted the brilliance of our Black business owners and community leaders. But this celebration extended its rays. It acknowledged the champions of diversity among us, those who have recognized the light that our community casts. We stood shoulder to shoulder with individuals like UTEP professor Cherry Duke, friends like Veronica Dayoub, trailblazers like Terri Reed and Mary Helen Aldeis, and organizations like the El Paso Museum of History.
Our city’s leaders, Dionne Mack and Parks and Rec’s Pablo Caballero, were also acknowledged as champions of togetherness during this occasion. We rejoiced in the achievements and contributions that shaped our shared narrative.
The result? A spark of inspiration ignited within our black entrepreneurs, rekindling their ambitions and propelling them toward a brighter actualization of what can be. But, even amid this resurgence, many voices echo a sentiment of being unseen and underrepresented. Our city prides itself on embracing every dream, regardless of origin. Today, we invite you to envision specialized initiatives thoughtfully designed to address Black entrepreneurs’ unique challenges. Mentorship programs, avenues to capital, and workshops focused on capacity-building are the cornerstones of this endeavor. These programs are not just pathways to prosperity but the birthplace of innovation, culture, and sustained growth.
While the presence of a chamber of commerce and local business initiatives provides a foundation, the journey of Black entrepreneurship is complex. Our endeavor necessitates a nuanced understanding, a genuine concern, and a strategic approach; this is where the expertise of The Black Roundtable comes into play – a collective of seasoned leaders and experts who have traversed the entrepreneurial landscape.
But let us not limit ourselves. By including the wisdom of diverse voices, irrespective of ethnicity, and combining it with our city’s boundless resources, we form an alliance poised to enact real and lasting change. As we synchronize our efforts with Juneteenth initiatives, we maximize our impact while minimizing duplication of resources.
We do not believe in reinventing the wheel, only strengthening its use.
It’s all in the details. While envisioning change is crucial, the accurate measure of success lies in its execution. We propose a symphony of action, bridging the intention-policy gap and cultivating a culture of hands-on engagement. We amplify our reach by creating and encouraging partnerships with esteemed institutions of higher learning, established business associations, and grassroots community organizations. The diverse talents and experiences intertwined through these collaborations fortify our programs and multiply their effects.
The Role of El Paso’s City and County Leaders
To our dedicated member leaders of the city and county of El Paso, your role is pivotal. As architects of change, you hold the key to progress and real-life transformation. By committing resources, streamlining regulations, and actively participating in the mentorship and support of Black entrepreneurs, you sow the seeds of a movement that transcends the boundaries of Black Business Month. This movement is primed to become a cornerstone of our city’s essence, driving sustained socioeconomic growth and progress.
Our call for action is deeply intertwined with the legacy of John and Mary Woods, whose journey brought them to El Paso following the supposed end of slavery. Their tale, a testament to black entrepreneurial success, shaped the landscape we travel today. By honoring these historical milestones, as masterfully executed by the El Paso Museum of History, we instill a hunger for knowledge and achievement within our present generation of Black entrepreneurs.
We stand united as a voice, representing our fellow Black business owners. Our plea is not to compare successes or bemoan disparities by the “already attained” Black entrepreneurs in our city but to elevate our journey, where each stride paves the way for our future in the Sun City. As we lay the groundwork, our vision is a city where our children and generations beyond can thrive and prosper upon their return.
Acknowledging Disparities while Pioneering Progress
Acknowledging the past – the disparities and challenges – is not an exercise in dwelling on differences. It’s a recognition of history that shapes our present reality. Just as our ancestors were uprooted from prosperous lands to shape new destinies, we, their descendants, hold the power to redefine our city’s narrative to mold it into an exemplar of excellence.
Though our numbers might be modest, our influence is profound. El Paso’s journey to greatness is incomplete without the vibrant contributions of its Black entrepreneurs, including those of us who arrive by way of the military. Together, we are piloting the course towards greater. El Paso can be enriched by including our diverse voices, ideas, and talents that define our great city.
We’re here for it.
Black El Paso Voice
The Black Roundtable