CHICAGO (CBS) — Since 1997, the Rainbow PUSH Black Wall Street Project has made significant strides in increasing business opportunities for minorities and women, but as the effort marks its 25th anniversary, leaders say there is still much work to be done.
“We’ve seen a huge boost since Reverend [Jesse Jackson] formed this Wall Street Project 25 years ago,” John A. Graves, chairman of Citizenship Education Fund, a subsidiary of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, told CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos. “We’re here to make a difference, but I I want you to understand that we are standing on Rev. Jackson’s shoulders, and he has trained us well, and we are continuing his vision as he continues to lead.”
The Wall Street Project challenges US companies to help close the country’s wealth gap through increased business, investment and employment for people of color and women.
Jackson said that as the project kicks off with its 25th annual New York Summit, a prominent example of the progress made is Chicago-based Loop Capital’s 2017 joint venture with Magic Johnson Enterprises to invest $10 million in the renovation. from LaGuardia Airport.
“Loop Capital is one of the best investors in that area. We’ve always had the opportunity to do that, we just didn’t have the chance,” he said.
Graves said that while Wall Street has taken significant steps toward greater diversity, major investment banks still need to do more to ensure minorities and women are at the table, especially when it comes to managing pension funds. He said that while many minorities contribute to large pension funds, they often have no say in how they invest their money.
“This [Wall Street] is the epicenter of the economy, so I don’t want to be too far from that, because many of these companies still have a shortage of African American stock brokers. We still do not participate in pension funds. We still don’t participate in the many spenders of SPACs – special purchase acquisition companies – that were formed in this country,” he said.
Graves said it is also important to reach beyond Wall Street to increase business and investment opportunities for minorities and women. The Wall Street Project also has an office in Detroit to focus on the auto industry, an office in Silicon Valley to focus on technology and innovation, an office in DC to focus on telecommunications, and an office in Georgia. to focus on transportation and retail. †
“So we’re a national organization, and with that footprint, and with the work the Reverend has done, he’s put together a team that has been able to focus – individually and collectively – to make sure that we make sure that we realize the fact that we need more African American and minority businesses in all industries, in all business, all professional services… across the board,” he said.