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... And the readers respond.

As we strove to keep you informed, you've made B.E. a better magazine by telling us a thing or two as well. From 1970 through 1995, here are some of the best of our readers' letters to the editor. FOR MAGAZINE EDITORS, THE LETTERS written by readers are one of the most important barometers of reader satisfaction. To know that people are buying your publication is good. To discover that they are actually reading it is obviously better. To know that they are talking about what they've read is better still.

But to move them to take the time and make the effort to actually write and mail (or, in the information age, fax or e-mail) a message--well, then you know your book is making a difference in the lives of its readers. For most editors, even critical letters are welcome; just about anything is better than being ignored.

Well, we must have been doing something right during the past 25 years. The Letters column of BLACK ENTERPRISE, which first appeared in the October 1970 issue of the magazine, has been a lively and opinionated forum for our readers since the very beginning.

These letters tell us that our readers care about BE and the issues of black economic empowerment, which is our mission. We, in turn, benefit from our readers' ideas (several of which have been adopted by the magazine over the years), criticism (which reminds us of the high standards we're pledged to uphold) and encouragement--which inspires us more than you'll ever know.

Following are some of the most provocative, uplifting and insightful of the reader letters published during Be's first quarter century.

Thanks--and don't forget to write.

THE 1970s

Congratulations to you and your associates for an outstanding inaugural issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE (August 1990). We have long needed this kind of journal, one that can reach both the black and white communities with the successes and opportunities open to blacks in the business and related worlds. I was particularly pleased to read about the business acumen of our Democratic National Committeeman from Mississippi, Charles Evers.

I know how long, and hard you have worked to make a reality of BLACK ENTERPRISE. On the basis of your first issue, I predict without qualification that you have a success on your hands.

Lawrence F. O'brien


Democratic National Committee


Published in the October 1970 issue of BE

I recently borrowed a copy of your magazine (August 1970) and was delighted. This is what we need, baby. Now hundreds of blacks hoping to get started in business can get the factual information they need to launch a business. I am presently attending the business ownership classes sponsored by the Rev. Leon Sullivan, and hope to get started in business if and when I can raise the capital. Many of my friends have advised me against taking a chance. They say it would be foolish to quit my $10,500-a-year government job and give up 20 years of seniority. They cite that 90%of those going into business fail (particularly blacks). Although these comments have not altered my determination, they have caused me to give thought to the possibilities and consequences of failure.

I am firmly convinced that I will never reach the economic position for myself and my family by working for the federal government; first, because of my limited education; and second, because of the numerous barriers set up by white bigots in high positions who fear the black man will take their jobs. Our only hope is in business.

Eugene Miller Jr.


Published in the October 1970 issue of BE

This note is primarily to tell you of how effective we here at Zebra associates find BLACK ENTERPRISE. In your February 1971 issue you did a story titled "Black Image Makers On Madison Avenue." Our agency was one of the agencies featured in the article.

As a result of this, we have received a tremendous amount of mail asking for additional information on Zebra. This is quite surprising as we have had articles written on Zebra in Newsweek, Time, the New York Times and Advertising Age, as well as a large number of black newspapers. Yet none of these articles brought us as much mail.

I guess I should not be too surprised since I do a great amount of traveling, and whenever I visit a black businessman's office, I always see copies of BLACK ENTERPRISE.

Raymond A. League


Zebra Associates

New York

Published in the June 1971 issue of BE

The June 1975 issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine is an encouraging affirmation of the idea that black progress and achievement are most readily gained by participation in the market economy. While the "Top 100" [listing of the nation's largest black-owned companies] represent only a tiny fraction of the growing number of prosperous, successful blacks in this country, they are important well beyond their absolute number. They have set an example. They are the culmination of active and aggressive business careers. And they will be emulated by thousands of other black entrepreneurs who understand the many benefits to be gained from free enterprise.

I have believed for a long time in those benefits, and have introduced legislation to insure access to them by black entrepreneurs. But far more important to the success of that idea are magazines like BLACK ENTERPRISE which promulgate--unabashedly--the importance of "making it."

James L. Buckley

U.S. Senator (R/C-N.Y.)


Published in the August 1975 issue of BE

The November 1977 issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE, devoted to the price of success, was indeed enlightening. Nowhere have I read such hard-hitting editorials that I can apply directly to my life.

Information pertaining to black identity, paranoia and stress should arouse every black person climbing the career ladder. After all, our jobs contribute to our overall happiness. Keep up the good work.

Henry R. Duvall Jr.

Silver Spring, Md.

Published in the January 1978 issue of BE

Your coverage of the loss of our most valuable resource [land], "Gaining ground On Black Property" (May 1978) was excellent. Ownership of property is an essential ingredient to our collective economic life. Stability and security can only be fully obtained through ownership. I believe this is the case for land ownership and in any area of the capitalist society.

The equity position, particularly in land, the fundamental resource in this country, is always the strongest position. We need to not only save our land, but to control more.

Gary W. Weaver

Trifam Systems Inc.

McLean, Va.

Published in the July 1978 issue of BE

THE 1980s

Barry Beckham's article, "From Campus To Corporation, The challenge To Adjust" (February 1980) is a provocative study on the material rewards that may await black professionals willing to compromise their culture and values at the corporate level. Some of those interviewed in the story bemoan the price of such "success": having to adopt a "white" lifestyle. In the end, these compromises seem worthwhile because of the money involved.

This article must be considered alongside "Bitters In The Brew Of Success" (November 1977), where author George Davis ponders the harmful psychological impact such assimilation causes in some cases. Beckham's article poses the question, "What price success?" It suggests that one must sacrifice peace of mind for the dollar value of a corporate position.

"Success" is a vague term, and whatever it means, it is relative to what one sacrifices in the process of achieving it. Material success without a stable black perspective by which to measure it puts us in no better position than that of the typical, expendable corporate tool.

By politely but firmly being what we are and showing that our culture is not harmful to corporate ends, blacks can readjust the corporate world. When this is accomplished, compromise will be a thing of the past. Establishing our identity and its compatibility with the profit motive is the challenge.

Steven A. Royston

Anaheim, Calif.

Published in the May 1980 issue of BE

Congratulations to BLACK ENTERPRISE and the members of your Board of Economists for the excellent article in the january 1984 issue, "The First Annual Economic Outlook For Black America: 1984." The article cuts through the graffiti to the heart of the economic problem facing black Americans: dollars and cents.

The full economic potential of the community cannot be realized until blacks, as a community, develop the skills to make it happen. Cities with black mayors will need increasing dosages of federal dollars until the disappearing tax base returns or blacks create the tax base!

Again, congratulations for the timely work. It seems inappropriate for such an important document to be published only annually.

Harold Holmes

Sentry Insurance

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Published in the April 1984 issue of BE

Congratulations to the BLACK ENTERPRISE family on such a thought-provoking March 1987 issue [featuring the "Special Report: Will Black Managers Survive Corporate Downsizing?". It addressed a most prevalent and menacing trend facing career management today.

Corporate downsizing is evidence that career management is a predominantly individual responsibility, and with prudence we must plan, organize, direct and control their progress. Many professionals have already acquired the knowledge, skills and ability to exercise the principles of management, therefore all that is needed is to apply these tenets to one's personal career objectives. Of course, the premise of this proposition is that a career objective has been or will be developed.

Timothy White

North Miami Beach, Fla.

Published in the June 1987 issue of BE

I am a 23-year-old finance major at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Before I read TLC Deal Signals New Era For Black Business" (In The News, October 1987), my long-term goal was to become the first [black] corporate mergers-and-acquisitions specialist. Well, Reginald F. Lewis, head of the investment firm, TLC Group Inc., beat me to my goal when his firm acquired Beatrice International Food Co. via a leveraged buyout. I'd like to thank Mr. Lewis for setting a precedent that has forced me to set my goal even higher. Now I want to acquire corporations that far exceed TLC's $985 million deal!

It gives me tremendous pride to know that a black American is responsible for the largest offshore leverage buyout in history. I hope that this unprecedented action makes more black people realize that we have the ability to be significant participants in the capital markets. Most of all, I hope this makes us fully aware that it is absolutely necessary for us to own the means of production in order to play an integral role in our society's economy.

Reginald F. Lewis is definitely a person who should be emulated, especially by the young members of the black community.

Charles H Emery III


Published in the

February 1988 issue of BE

Bravo to BLACK ENTERPRISE! [Your report on] "America's Hottest Black Managers" (February 1988) was indeed sensational. The article fervently affirms that blacks can achieve high status in most or corporations.

Moreover, the gentlemen pictured on your cover can only spark enthusiasm and determination in our most precious resource: black youths. Articles such as the one on successful black managers keep our black business role models burning in the hearts and minds of our youth. In BLACK ENTERPRISE, they can see it, read it, do it!

Micalos F. Arnold

San Diego

Published in the April 1988 issue of BE

THE 1990s

I'm a new subscriber to BLACK ENTERPRISE. Today I received my third issue. What an issue! Your cover story, "How To Start An Investment Club," by Carolyn M. Brown (April 1993), is the epitome of enlightenment for all peoples, especially young African-Americans and maybe the not-so-young.

I'm 53 and planning to file retirement papers at the end of this year. By the time I'm 55, I will be out of the work force by choice. Had I been privy to the information in this article 30 years ago and had I been able to read and appreciate its contents as I do today, how different my life would be.

I feel, however, that it's never too late. This very day I am beginning an outreach for persons to participate in an investment club. I hope to help prepare some of our younger brothers and sisters for their golden years. Nor shall I ignore those who have already reached those years and have a desire to improve their situations.

Paul Odell Register

New York

Published in the July 1993 issue of BE

As a fourth-grade teacher in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., I can tell you that my students and I found your June 1993 article, "How Hip-Hop Fashion Won Over Mainstream America" [on the BE Company Of The Year, Threads 4 Life Corp. , fascinating, inspiring and an informative teaching tool.

I have subscribed to your magazine for a couple of years; however, never before have I been so motivated and eager to incorporate this wealth of knowledge into the lives of my 24 nine- and 10-year-olds. This particular issue on the nation's largest black businesses caught our attention.

The majority of my children and a lot of other African American boys and girls had no idea that the masterminds behind Threads 4 Life's Cross Colours, a clothing line they wear almost religiously, were two African American males. Suddenly, my students and I were engaged in daily meetings about African American entrepreneurs and CEOs. As a result, I am in the midst of creating a curriculum unit of study on "Entrepreneurship For African Americans Regardless of Age" for the fifth- and sixth-grade students I will teach this fall. These students will conduct intensive studies and research on black-owned businesses and their CEOs. Each child will develop and implement a proposal for his or her own business, and the class as a group will develop a business which will operate within the school.

I cannot thank BLACK ENTERPRISE, Cross Colours and the other black-owned businesses mentioned in this issue enough for being the African American role models that my children can look up to and aspire to emulate. You will always be a part of our classroom!

Leslie-Diann Jones

Decatur-Clearpool Public School 35

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Published in the Septemher 1993 issue of BE

Your June 1994 issue [featuring the BE 100s, The Nation's Largest Black Businesses] is in my hands and, once again, I find myself made richer and wiser by the information and the inspiration you provide. Though we African Americans were, by and large, victorious in our struggle for freedom, I happen to think that the toughest battles still lie ahead of us: the struggle for equality.

Freedom, as I define it, is basically Political, based on the unlimited exercise of those rights and privileges--like voting and access to public accommodations--guaranteed to every American citizen under the U.S. Constitution. Guaranteed, after all these years, because many a black man and woman died to make them so.

Equality, on the other hand--and here the ground is still shaky under my feet--has to do with economics, rights for which there are no constitutional guarantees. Not yet. The right to a job is as important in a just society as the right to vote. I doubt that I shall live to see that happen, but it will. It has to. African Americans will lead the way to make it so. But to continue my argument: Our freedom is based on our rights as citizens, but our equality--to the extent that we have it--is based on our power as a group. We must first become economically empowered, the struggle not only to make that power roughly equivalent in size and substance to the economic power of other groups, but also to establish for our power the equal protection of the law. Anything short of this will leave us free but hardly equal--second-class citizens still.

Despite the prodigious progress we African Americans have already achieved in our heroic fight for freedom in the '60s and the '70s, there is still one more river to cross: the river of equality. For that we will need an economic philosophy based not only on sound economic theory in general, but on our own history and capabilities, and addressed to our needs.

We need a strategy to eliminate poverty (which equals powerlessness), one that takes up the challenge of Martin Luther King Jr. in his last days, and offers the same kind of leadership to the people. We need, first of all, to be informed as well as inspired. And for me, one of the premier places to get both information and inspiration is BLACK ENTERPRISE.

Ossie Davis


Emmalyn Enterprises

New Rochelle, N.Y.

Published in the

September 1994 issue of BE
COPYRIGHT 1995 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Black Enterprise 25th Anniversary: Saluting the Past, Shaping the Future; selected readers' letters to Black Enterprise magazine over the last 25 years
Author:Edmond, Alfred A. Jr.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Aug 1, 1995
Previous Article:The quest for financial security.
Next Article:The next 25 years: our bold predictions for the next quarter century.

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