The Charleston Chronicle

Author, Entrepreneur Margarita Anderson Encourages Support of Black Businesses During Convocation Speech at Claflin University

  • Margarita Anderson
Margarita (Maggie) Anderson delivered a passionate and enlightening message at Claflin University’s annual Spring Convocation on Thursday (Jan. 21), as she enthusiastically praised the virtues and legacy of Black businesses and economic empowerment in the Black community. She also challenged the audience to share the vision of past generations of Black entrepreneurs and consumers who created and supported Black businesses.

“I am very proud of what my family and I did to support Black businesses,” said Anderson whose family lived exclusively off Black business and talent and bought only Black-made products for an entire year. “We invested about $94,000 into Black businesses which they may not have received if not for our experiment.”

Margarita Anderson talked about her year-long experience to a capacity crowd of students, faculty and guests in Claflin’s Tullis Arena of the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Building. Anderson's project was called The Empowerment Experiment (EE) and resulted in a landmark study conducted by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. Since the completion of their experiment, Anderson has become the voice of American consumers of all backgrounds who want to make sure their buying power positively impacts struggling minority communities.

“We had to endure a lot, including eating unhealthy meals, gas station food, over-priced cereal,“ Anderson said. “But it was nothing compared to the insults Black business owners had to endure when they tried to do the right thing but could not get loans or the support of Black people to sustain the economic prosperity within the Black community. Unfortunately, many of those businesses we supported during our experiment – including the only Black grocery store in Chicago – are now closed.”

Anderson wrote a critically acclaimed book, Our Black Year, presented by William Morris Entertainment and Public Affairs Books, which chronicled her experiment. She graduated from Emory University with a degree in political science. Anderson earned both juris doctor and MBA from the University of Chicago where President Barak Obama was one of her law professors. She is an accomplished business strategy professional with 17 years of legal, research, communications, and business strategy experience.

"It's time for us to step up-- and I am confident we will," she said. "The opportunities to start and sustain successful businesses are right here in our communities. I don't want to tell my daughters what Black communities used to look like when they could go into a store and buy something from someone who looked like them. I want them to experience that now. And I want them to see how brilliant and visionary we still are, not talk about how we used to be. It's time to claim the victory now and continue the fight."
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