Economic justice

Nationally syndicated talk show host Roland Martin headlines New Jersey-focused racial and economic justice town hall

NEWARK, New Jersey, March 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — In an effort to send a clear message to the Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, in an election year, national and state community and business leaders held a virtual town hall on Sunday that received more than 20,000 views on social media platforms. Roland Martin hosted the event and pledged to hold a series of town halls in New Jersey throughout 2021 to expose the disparities faced by black and brown people in the state. Some of the economic, educational and social disparities of the state rival those of the Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

Attendees shone a light on these deep racial disparities and discussed plans to engage Governor Murphy and other lawmakers in a call to action. President of the Senate Stephen Sweeney was the keynote address for the previous town hall and received praise for his public commitment to sponsoring legislation to address disparities.

Martin interviewed Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League; the honorable senator from the state of new jersey Ronald L. Rice; Civil Rights Lawyer Ryan Haygood, who is president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice; the reverend dr. David Jefferson Sr., Esq. Pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church; and Jacob Walthour Jr., founder and CEO of Blueprint Capital Advisors, from New Jersey first and only African-American asset management firm.

“The harsh reality is that when it comes to the economy in the 21st century, black people are losing ground,” Moriel said. “We’re losing ground in terms of home ownership. We’ve lost 30-40% of black businesses in the pandemic.”

“There has been too much rhetoric about women and minorities being sidelined,” said Rice. “Each governor has given us rhetoric to suggest they are doing something when in reality they are not doing anything.”

“What I experienced on Wall Street is not comparable to the discrimination I experienced in the New Jersey State over the past five years,” said Walthour. Blueprint Capital Advisors filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination, theft, fraud and racketeering against the state of New Jersey and by Larry Fink Blackrock, OwlRock LLC and Cliffwater LLC. “The governor refused to take my allegations seriously and then refused to investigate the matter even when called upon by the NAACP, National Urban League and National Action Network. His legal team is now engaged in an all-out effort to prevent access to public records that we believe prove systemic discrimination. He did not grow up in democratic politics and does not embody democratic ideals,” added Walthour.

In addition to Blueprint’s racial discrimination lawsuit, Blackrock is also being sued for former employee racial discrimination Brittany McGee, who alleges the company gave its white male counterparts “more desirable assignments, higher pay and promotions.” At February 18, 2021, former employees Mugi N. Nguyai and Essma Bengabsia, published a scathing open letter on detailing their experience with the company. Walthour also noted that by Larry Fink BlackRock has received an open letter from major institutional investors angry about their support for more than 140 Republicans who tried to overthrow the presidential election.

“The condition of blacks in Camden, Trenton, and other parts of New Jersey is absolutely heartbreaking. To do nothing and say nothing is to be complicit in the pain that economic injustice inflicts on black people.” Jefferson noted.

New Jersey has a $80 billion public pension fund, but it’s unclear how much money is going to black businesses. The question should be “of all the money spent in New Jersey, and in America, how much goes to African Americans'” said Martin. “That’s the question we should all be asking ourselves.”

“The reality is that Governor Murphy’s administration has refused to provide data detailing the use of black-owned businesses to fulfill government contracts. The administration has also delayed the start of a ‘disparities study’ for the first three years of his administration, which many believed evidenced systemic racism and discrimination in the awarding of government contracts. The report is expected to be written after the 2021 election,” says Jefferson. According to Haygood, 94% of black voters showed up to vote for Governor Murphy.

“To a large extent, if you look at African-American businesses of size and scale, many have their origins in sidelined minority businesses championed first by African-American mayors such as maynard jackson of Atlanta, Coleman Young of Detroit, Marion Barry of washington d.c., my late father, Dutch Morial of New Orleans“, Added morale. “We must demand that government policies in municipal, state, federal, airport and transit authorities be held accountable for doing business with African American business owners.”

“One of the Rev. Dr. by Martin Luther King Jr. last stops before he was assassinated was in New Jersey. He came to build support for the poor campaign, and 50 years after he arrived in newark, the individual wealth of blacks in this state is $179, cheaper than the price of a laptop”, said Haygood.New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the country, just behind Maryland. The median net wealth of white families is $352,000“, added Haygood.

“The racial wealth gap was created, maintained and produced by public policy, and there must be policy to right those wrongs,” Moriel said. “While the reality of the past 40 years is that we have seen the beginnings of change, there have been strong headwinds against us and much more needs to be done to achieve fairness and justice.”

SOURCE Blueprint Capital Advisors

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