Archive for William Reed

Business Exchange by William Reed: Africans Come To America

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Money/Economics, President Barack Obama with tags , , , , , on August 19, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Obama Bites Lip

By William Reed

As he winds through his second term with high “disapproval” numbers, Blacks are the only people President Barack Obama can turn to. As we enter August, a third of America’s voters think Obama is the worst president since World War II. Except for Blacks providing an upside, the first African-American president of the United States’ image is one of inexperience and ineptness. With his domestic and foreign policy portfolios both in tatters, Obama has turned to Blacks for support. This time it’s leaders from African nations that are “in good standing” with America. As he holds history’s first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Obama is hosting 50 African heads of state and more than 100 of their ministers.

Recent domestic polls have Obama being viewed as “less competent” and “more dishonest” than George W. Bush. Obama’s approval rating among American registered voters stands at 45 percent, but among Blacks, his job approval soars to 86 percent. Almost nine out of every 10 African American would support Obama no matter what, no matter how far America sinks under his leadership, even if they have no jobs and their own lives are in shambles. Seventy percent of Africans say pretty much the same about Obama.

The three-day Summit is the largest event any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government. Those Africans coming to America for the Summit will be displaying the latest fashions, prints and styles of the continent. But, not much of substance is expected. It’s a “photo-op” to help Blacks, from here and there, feel good and in charge. Truth is, China, which devotes half of its $14.41 billion aid budget to its projects on the continent, regularly hosts individual African heads of state and has far outpaced the U.S. in trade and everything economic, in Africa. The structure of today’s trade relations between the U.S. and Africa is primarily dominated by fuel and fuel-related products.
Colonialist countries exploited Africa for centuries. As “the Black President,” Obama gets a “pass” for America’s colonial practices, but little else. These days China is the “most dominate” foreign country in Africa. The Africans are being very polite in coming to America because little else will come of the occasion other than a “Polaroid moment.” Obama has a long way to go to put America on economic par with China among Africans.

The African continent is home to more than a billion people that speak more than 2,000 languages. Only a few of Africa’s 54 leaders – Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who is still the target of U.S. sanctions and the Sudanese whom the U.S. bombed and assisted in the separation of South Sudan – were not invited to the Summit.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is hosting the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Ministerial at the World Bank. Obama’s Power Africa initiative is a key Summit issue item. “Power” is one of Africa’s most pressing challenges. According to the World Bank, only a quarter of sub-Saharan Africa has access to electricity and 10 percent per-year capacity growth is needed to meet electricity demand.
A Summit Business Forum will be presented by the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees will host a Capitol Hill welcoming reception. The key Blacks on African issues there are U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the Ranking Member on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Africa and the Republican majority’s Gregory Simpkins the Subcommittee staff director, who says his main focus is: “increasing economic linkages between the U.S. and Africa.”

Summit planners say the discussions will encourage progress in areas that Africans define as critical for the continent’s future: “expanding trade and investment ties, engaging young African leaders, promoting inclusive sustainable development, expanding cooperation on peace and security, and gaining better futures for Africa’s next generation.”

“Everyone must understand that Africans aren’t looking for people to save them, but for people to partner with,” says Melvin Foote, head of the U.S.-based Constituency for Africa.

William Reed William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org.

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BUSINESS EXCHANGE: Blacks and Hospitality

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests with tags , , , , , on August 2, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Marriott Marquis DC

By William Reed

One of the major obstacles to Black economic development is a skewed mentality when it comes to starting businesses. African Americans have the lowest rate of business ownership, compared to Whites, Latinos and Asians. This Black psyche discourages concepts and campaigns toward business and its development. Blacks need leadership, broader enlightenment and participation in business and its ethos. To become viable in American society and commerce, Black Americans need to band together in sustained, concerted efforts that promote our standard of living and economic health. Black Americans must participate to the utmost in generating quantitative and qualitative actions toward an expanded economy.

African Americans spend $40 billion each year in the travel and tourism industries. But few of those dollars turn over in the Black community. Toward that end, the U.S. Black Chambers Inc., (USBC) is forming a coalition and campaign in the hospitality industry to support Black-owned businesses and hotels. With the billions of dollars being spent each year in the national tourism and hospitality industries, the USBC, along with other leading Black organizations are leading by example.

The USBC and company are engaged in a movement that encourages Black consumer support of the nation’s Black-owned vendors and hotels. Giving legs to a national effort in which Black consumers help increase Blacks’ commerce, the USBC is joined by the National Bankers Association, the Urban League, and the NAACP to prioritize issues and activities that nurture and develop Black businesses.

In 2012, the United States’ travel and tourism industry generated nearly $1.5 trillion in economic output. This business activity supported 7.8 million U.S. jobs. One out of every 17 Americans work, either directly or indirectly, in the travel or a tourism-related industry. Over the past decade, the U.S. lodging industry added a net of 6,249 properties and 664,683 rooms.

Indian Americans’ “collective capitalism” activity in this sector is a model for African Americans. Indian Americans own almost half (40 percent) of the motels in the United States. Hotel ownership is an area of investment that African Americans are starting to become involved. Currently, there are 523 hotels owned and operated by African Americans. Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson owns 120 properties while Michael and Steve Roberts have 12. Don Peebles, the first African American to own a luxury hotel with the Royal Palm, also has a Courtyard Marriott in Washington, D.C.

Norman Jenkins-MarriottMARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC. LOGO

The USBC unveiled its plans for the hospitality industry at the recently opened $520 million Washington Marriott Marquis. The Washington Marriott Marquis is the Marriott Company’s 4,000th hotel and the nation’s capital’s largest. The Washington Marriott Marquis is considered a “convention center headquarters hotel” designed both to provide housing for those attending conventions at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, located directly across the street and to augment it by providing smaller meeting room spaces. The Washington Marriott Marquis is owned by Quadrangle Development, along with its partner Capstone Development, a private, Black-owned development firm. It’s operated by Marriott International, Inc. The hotel has 1,175 rooms – which include 49 suites – and stands 14 stories above ground, and has four levels underground. Norman Jenkins, founder of Capstone Development, is a former Marriott executive. Under his leadership, the Marriott brand gained at least 500 minority-owned or minority-franchised Marriotts under the company’s Diversity Ownership Initiative. A former corporate executive, Jenkins represents the mindset Black Americans need to adopt. He has the ability and attitude to create business models and ventures and ultimately execute them through mechanisms that sustain generational wealth. Jenkins is a certified public accountant who holds a B.B.A. in accounting from Howard University and an M.B.A. from George Washington University.

It’s mandatory that Blacks unite behind the USBC in “commitment and advocacy” toward Blacks’ economic growth. To further bolster its community impact and access, the USBC recently announced that former U.S. Small Business Administration Deputy Administrator, Marie Johns, has signed on as a strategist.

The USBC is located at 1156 15th Street N.W., Suite 1100, Washington, D.C. 20005 – or visit www.usblackchambers.org.

William Reed William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

BUSINESS EXCHANGE: Did Mississippi’s Blacks Get Paid?

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Politics, Racism with tags , , , , on July 19, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Thad Cochran

Are you one of those political yahoos claiming victory for your cause after Mississippi Black voters helped Sen. Thad Cochran survive an intense Republican primary runoff against insurgent conservative challenger Chris McDaniel? Before you count that “Magnolia State” chicanery as a political victory, pause and consider the words of Malcolm X: “Oh, I say it again, you’ve been had. You’ve been took. You’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Led astray. Run amok.”

Some got played in the Mississippi Republican primary runoff and some got paid. Cochran had a huge fundraising advantage so when the June 3 primary election was thrown into a runoff, the Cochran campaign began looking into ways to expand the electorate. That meant targeting and courting Mississippi’s overwhelmingly Democratic African-American population. The campaign deployed workers throughout the state’s Delta region, which has a concentrated Black population, and hired Black Democratic operatives to coordinate the ground game. The ploy worked: turnout in the Delta increased nearly 40 percent. Black voters helped Cochran win in the Republican Senate primary runoff by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin.

Mississippi Blacks got out of their lane due to a guy named “Barbour.” Not “Haley” Barbour, the legend among Republican voters. Haley Barbour is the former governor of Mississippi and former chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Instead, it was Haley’s nephew, Henry Barbour who helped the Thad Cochran campaign in the most divisive, hateful, and probably illegal GOP nomination campaigns in history.

Henry Barbour lives in Yazoo City and heads up the Capitol Resources lobbying operative in seven Southern states and Washington, D.C. Henry Barbour’s campaign tactics successfully smeared Chris McDaniel and the Tea Party. The Barbour-backed super PAC Mississippi Conservatives spent $2.23 million to support Cochran and attack McDaniel. It was Henry Barbour’s PAC that paid for phone calls that described candidate McDaniel as “a racist.” He solicited a number of Black Democrats to infiltrate the Republican Party primary runoff and save Cochran’s Senate seat. It’s widely reported that Henry Barbour handed out “walking around money” throughout heavily-Black Democratic precincts in Mississippi. His brand of “Black outreach” worked. Black voters helped Cochran raise his vote total by more than 38,000, from the 318,904 voters on June 3rd to the 375,000 voters on runoff day.

The daydream Black Mississippi voters created amounted to a mere 15 minutes of fame. However, that fame has quickly turned into infamy. The runoff, wrought with treachery, malfeasance and subterfuge should humiliate any clear-headed Democratic operative.

One of the keys to the Black turnout for Cochran turned out to be Atlanta-based political strategist, Mitzi Bickers. Bickers is pastor of Atlanta’s Emmanuel Baptist Church and a former president of the Atlanta school board. Organizations affiliated with Bickers, The Bickers Group and Pirouette Company, received $44,000 for get-out-the-vote “phone services.” Bishop Ronnie Crudup, Sr. was also instrumental in getting Black Democrats to vote in the Republican runoff. Senior pastor of Jackson’s New Horizon Church, Crudup’s All Citizens for Mississippi PAC spent “about $20,000” in media targeting Blacks. Alice Tisdale, publisher of the Jackson Advocate newspaper, said in a report that appeared in Richard Prince’s “Journal-isms” that the PAC spent $2,600 with her publication. The Advocate endorsed Cochran in the June 3 primary and again for the runoff. The Mississippi Link published an ad on behalf of Crudup’s PAC in late May.

Though the campaign provided the paradigm for successful outreach to Blacks, it proved to be deceptive. It now appears that thousands of Democratic voters cast ballots in both the Democratic primary and the Republican Senate runoff elections. Those votes are illegal. And they likely made the difference in the outcome of the election. Allegations of voter fraud abound and need to be investigated. All parties found to be involved in criminal conduct should be prosecuted.

While all this political trickery was taking place, Mississippi remains mired at the bottom of virtually every measure of economic well-being with the highest rate of poverty and the lowest median household income of all 50 states.

William ReedWilliam Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org.

“If It Is to Be …”: A Winning Attitude

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Men with tags , , on July 18, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Informerlogo

By William Reed

For more than 180 years Black publishers have been the most visible leaders and advocates for our communities. Often summarily dismissed in contemporary American culture, the Black Press has played a leading role in heralding Blacks’ history and fueling the momentum of our culture, economics and politics. The truth should be known that throughout history America’s Black Press has been critical to African-Americans’ education, information and progress. But, in reality few Black Millennials know the Black Press as their most creditable information medium. This generation of Blacks needs to recognize and honor Black newspaper publishers that have served as the pillars of enterprise and information in their communities.

Today’s Blacks only know the mainstream publications that have no interest in our race or its issues. The history of the Urban League, NAACP, and integration of the military and civil rights movement was made with Black newspapers being mediums for these topics. During the 20th century Black newspaper publishers distinguished themselves and their newspapers as the primary voices for, and about, African Americans. One such publisher and community leader was Calvin W. Rolark, founder of the Washington Informer newspaper in the nation’s capital and the United Black Fund Inc. (UBF). Rolark started the Washington Informer newspaper in October 1964 and used its power and reach to establish one of the nation’s largest Black charitable fundraising organizations. At its inception, UBF was the largest Black-oriented charity organization in the nation. At that time, UBF was a $17 million-a-year United Way operation providing for more than 150 inner-city Washington social service projects. In 1969, Rolark was named, “Citizen of the Year,” by the District of Columbia Federation of Civic Associations.

Throughout history, Black publishers have been partners with their communities’ progress. “If it is to be, it’s up to me” is the way Rolark started his presentations to the public. Rolark made this plea for “Black self-reliance” to help his community’s people develop the attitude of winners. Though he gained success as a publisher, it’s said that formation of the UBF was Rolark’s seminal lifetime achievement. Beginning in 1969, Rolark and his wife, Wilhelmina, “worked to help people help themselves” through UBF Inc. Their historic legal and civil battle to open doors to charity fundraising campaigns yielded their agencies a revenue stream to the tone of millions of dollars a year. UBF, whose motto is “meeting unmet needs” is a model of organized community-based efforts to improve the lives of Blacks. UBF works with more than 100 member agencies across the city. Under leadership from representatives directly from the community, UBF implements family focused initiatives that provide parents with tools for raising children that encourages neighborhood education and recreation activity to guide and direct youth, and promote community-based problem solving. Under Barry Lenoir, UBF continues work required for Black youth to succeed. And, for Black families to gather the resources required for living and not merely existing. In the 1980s and 90s, Rolark worked to end violence, as he promoted respect and cooperation among African-American Washingtonians.

ROLARKS

As the Washington Informer celebrates its golden anniversary, executives in the publication say they continue Rolark’s mission “to highlight positive images of African Americans in the nation’s capital.” Marketing manager Ron Burke says, “we strive to educate, empower and inform,” through print, the web, weekly email newsletters, and TV shows. The Rolark Initiative “Washington Informer Charities” sponsors an annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Parade and Freedom Walk and the City-Wide Spelling Bee. In honor of African American History Month, Washington Informer Charities conducts a daylong African-American Heritage Tour.

Across the nation’s Black communities’ second-and-third generation Black publishers are “transitioning” to media products that “address issues affecting all races and nationalities.” Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes said, “we still focus on the Black community, but we’re not exclusive to that community.”

There are many miles to go and issues to address before America is a “fair and just society.” Toward that journey, the Black Press can be counted on “to voice our true plight.”

William Reed William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

Who’s Who in Black Corporate America?

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Men, Black Men In America, Money/Economics with tags , , , , on June 22, 2014 by Gary Johnson

rlj-companies-001-pt-tn

By William Reed

According to Forbes 2014 ranking of the world’s billionaires, Nigerian business magnate Aliko Dangote with a net worth of $25 billion is the world’s richest Black person. But, Robert Louis “Bob” Johnson is an American worthy of note. Known best for launching Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1980, Johnson was America’s first Black billionaire. After selling BET to Viacom for $3 billion, the 67-year-old Johnson has etched out role model status in hotels (Marriott), auto dealerships and ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats.

Born in Hickory, Mississippi, Bob Johnson founded BET with his wife, Sheila. After they sold BET in 2001 and divorced in 2002, both qualified billionaires. Since BET, Johnson has started the RLJ Companies, invested in an NBA team, a film company, and political causes and campaigns.

Bob Johnson spent the majority of his childhood in Freeport, Illinois and graduated from Freeport High School in 1964. He studied history at the University of Illinois and later earned a master’s degree in international affairs from Princeton University. After graduating Princeton, Johnson served as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s public affairs director. He also worked for the National Urban League and as a press secretary for Congressman Walter E. Fauntroy. Later Johnson became vice president of government relations at the National Cable and Television Association. In 1980, Johnson launched Black Entertainment Television. In 1984, he was listed in Who’s Who in Black Corporate America in 1984 and in 2007, USA Today named him one of the 25 most influential business leaders of the past quarter century.

The RLJ Companies provides strategic investments in a portfolio of companies in hotel real estate investment; private equity; financial services; asset management; automobile dealerships; sports and entertainment; and video lottery terminal (VLT) gaming. The core assets include:

• RLJ Lodging Trust has a total of 147 properties, comprised of 145 hotels with approximately 22,500 rooms located in 22 states and the District of Columbia.
• RLJ Equity Partners, LLC was founded with The Carlyle Group and specializes in middle-market leveraged buy-outs, recapitalizations, and growth equity. RLJ Equity Partners invests in companies with enterprise values between $50M and $250M within aerospace/defense; automotive/transportation; business services; consumer/retail; general industrial and media sectors.
• RLJ Credit Opportunity Fund provides capital solutions to facilitate buyouts, recapitalizations, refinancing, and growth financings. RLJ Credit principles partner with private equity firms, investment banks, and operating executives to deliver financial and strategic resources.
• RLJ Entertainment, Inc. is a owner, developer, licensee and distributor of entertainment content and programming with over 5,300 exclusive titles.
• RLJ Financial, LLC provides lending products to consumers in need of short term and emergency borrowing.
• Retirement Clearinghouse (RCH) specializes in employee retirement transition (job changer) services.
• RLJ Fixed Income, LLC specializes in income investment opportunities within the government, corporate, federal agency, and municipal bond markets.
• RLJ-McLarty-Landers Automotive Holdings, LLC consists of 35 automotive franchises and three Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealerships in eight states. RLJ-McLarty-Landers is the largest African American owned automotive franchise in the country.
• Bobcats Sports & Entertainment is comprised of the franchise and arena operations, of a professional basketball team of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Bobcats debuted in 2004 and is part of the Southeast Division of the NBA’s Eastern Conference and play home games at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena. In 2010, Johnson sold majority ownership to Michael Jordan and MJ Basketball Holdings, LLC, but Johnson still serves as the Bobcats’ governor to the NBA.
• Caribbean CAGE, LLC is a route-installed gaming company headquartered in Puerto Rico that focuses on the installation, operation and management of video lottery terminals (VLTs), linked gaming systems and game content throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
• Our Stories Films, LLC is a production studio that produces theatrical motion pictures.
• The RLJ Kendeja Resort & Villas is a 78-room villa style hotel located on 13-acres of ocean front property overlooking the Atlantic Ocean outside of Monrovia, Liberia. The property opened in 2009.The four-star luxury resort is the first of its kind in Liberia and one of the first in West Africa.

William Reed William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org.

Blacks Harnessing the Power of Capitalism

Posted in African Americans, Black Men, Black Men In America with tags , , on June 8, 2014 by Gary Johnson

William Reed

By William Reed

Among Donald Sterling’s rants he said something more Blacks need to recognize as truth. Sterling’s comments that: “When Jews get successful they will help their people. And some of the African-Americans … they don’t want to help anybody” were neither unfair nor racist. Start with his point: the majority of Blacks don’t help other Blacks. It is a reality that most honest Blacks will admit is true. And it’s something that our community has grappled with for years. If you just focus on the messenger instead of the message you will miss the truth that in our culture Blacks have a history of not supporting one another. Look at Blacks’ economics versus those of Jews. Of all groups’ “collective capitalism” practices Jews are among the best, while Blacks are the worst. Research data shows: a dollar circulates up to 12 times within Jewish circles, but is in and out of the Black community within 12 hours.

Where do Blacks Americans go from here? Blacks’ economic status is a reflection of our counter-capitalistic actions. Since the 1960s, Blacks have been on “a mission” to associate and acculturate with White society. All that assimilated was our money.

Blacks need to help each other out of the bottom of the barrel. Isn’t it about time for Blacks to become more “preoccupied” with putting “race issues” in our personal practices and patterns? Too often Blacks compete against each other. To be competitive in American politics and capitalism, Black Americans have to rid themselves of the “crabs-in-a-barrel syndrome” and start prioritizing race-based issues and practices.

We need to drop the “mainstream” stint to do things among African Americans that build wealth through ownership and development of businesses. This way of thinking and acting is an offshoot of Black Nationalism. It’s time greater numbers of us become Black Capitalists in the mode of Booker T. Washington and Robert Reed Church, who founded the nation’s first Black-owned bank in 1906, Solvent Savings.

Where do you think Sterling buys his food, clothes or banks? When did you last purchase something from a minority vendor? How often do you pass a minority-owned restaurant on your way to eat at “a name brand” dining establishment?

How do you identify? Are you Black first and American second? This is a difficult question for Blacks with a “mainstream orientation” to answer, but probably isn’t for Jewish, Asian or immigrant groups. Many of us desire to be American, Democrat, Republican, Conservative or Liberal before being “Black.”

Being “Black first” requires dedication to a political ideology that focuses on Blacks’ interest. The principle objectives of Black nationalists are unity and self-determination – independent from European society. Martin Delany, an African-American abolitionist, in the 1800s, is considered the foremost Black nationalist of his day.

The origins of Black Nationalism lie in the political thought of people like Marcus Garvey, Martin Delany, Henry Highland Garnet, Edward Wilmot Blyden and Paul Cuffe among others. Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association of the 1910s and 1920s proved to be the most powerful Black Nationalist movement to date that boasted 11 million members. Black Nationalist philosophy began when the Africans were brought ashore to the Americas. After the Revolutionary War, personalities such as Prince Hall, Richard Allen, and Absalom Jones started important organizations such as the Free African Society, African Masonic lodges and church institutions. Modern Black Nationalism stresses building separate communities that promote racial pride and collective resources. This helped to create groups like the Moorish Science Temple and Nation of Islam.

Blacks need leadership that embraces race as a critical component of their professional identity. Increasing numbers of Blacks recognize business as the preferred vehicle to financial freedom and view the private sector, rather than the public one, as the nexus of American power. Like the Jews, Blacks need strong principles of collective economic concepts to succeed in America. More Blacks should support each another, instead of denigrating one another. It’s that simple.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org.

Uncle Earl

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Men, Politics with tags on April 13, 2014 by Gary Johnson

jeffrey-thompson

By William Reed

The legend of “Uncle Earl” is a lesson in Black urban politics. Businessman Jeffrey Earl Thompson is one of Washington D.C.’s “most influential Blacks.” The 58-year-old Thompson was proven to be “Uncle Earl” in court proceedings that revealed secret dealings that broke a whole host of campaign finance laws, including funneling more than $2 million to various candidates through third parties and off-the-record activities.

Thompson is the most prolific political rainmaker in the nation. Thompson allegedly gave more than $600,000 to make Vincent Gray’s campaign to unseat Adrian Fenty in the 2010 D.C. mayoral election successful. Thompson funneled more than $3.3 million in unreported donations to at least 28 local and national candidates and their campaigns beginning in 2006. The recent “guilty” plea that Thompson entered to federal conspiracy charges marks a defining moment for the self-made, immigrant businessman, who built an accounting and health care empire that gained fame and fortune.

Few Black Americans can claim credit for designing, developing and propagating a $633,000 urban shadow electoral campaign. The federal court proved that Thompson was a kingmaker who delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal “straw donor” campaign contributions to sway elections in the city and beyond. Election after election, the Jamaican-born Thompson huddled behind closed doors with candidates, political operatives, and businessmen, to devise schemes to funnel millions of dollars of corporate money into local and federal elections.

Thompson’s reach extended to Maryland’s governments and officials. A mover and shaker without peer, Thompson was schooled well in the art of politics. He solicited relatives, friends, employees and others to make donations to designated candidates and reimbursed their “conduit contributions” with personal money and money from his companies. On his company’s books, the payments were listed as “advances” and “bonuses.” Thompson’s company also paid for in-kind gifts to candidates that included $653,000 in money for the 2010 Mayoral Campaign in D.C. and $608,750 to the 2008 Hillary Clinton candidacy for president.

Many immigrants from the West Indies and African countries often far outperform American-born Blacks in business and politics. Jeffrey Earl Thompson was born in 1955 into a working-class home in Jamaica’s St. Elizabeth Parish, the youngest of 11 children. He came to Washington in 1975, earning a high school equivalency degree and putting himself through the University of the District of Columbia by working as a bookkeeper. Not long after graduating from college and interning at top accounting firms, in 1983 he founded his own company, which would become Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates. Thompson built the firm into a $300 million enterprise. Over the next two decades, he would build it into a national powerhouse among minority-owned firms, because of its ability to win local and federal government contracts. He would go on to own D.C. Chartered Health Plan, a health care firm that managed services for 100,000 residents.

By most measures Thompson would be labeled “an American success story.” So, while a number of his political cohorts are serving prison time, most Washingtonians expect that Thompson’s sentence will be reduced to six months of home confinement. Thompson moved among the highest levels of Blacks and politics in D.C. He paid $608, 750 through former White House aide Minyon Moore to hire “street teams” in four states to help boost Clinton’s campaign for the 2008 Democratic nomination.

Thompson is an important man of the times. The “shout out” he received from President Bill Clinton at the podium of a 1997 Democratic National Committee dinner at the Sheraton-Carlton Hotel attests to the reach Thompson attained as he moved between City Hall and the White House. As he became “a donor of note” to D.C. and national political campaigns, Thompson cultivated close relationships with national figures, including Civil Rights icon Dorothy I. Height and former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman. Height gave Thompson instant status. Thompson met Herman through Height when the two paid an ill Height a visit. Thompson offered Herman a ride, which turned into dinner and eventually romance. Thompson escorted Herman to the 1994 state dinner for Nelson Mandela.

William Reed William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

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