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Take control of your financial life.

This year marks two major anniversaries for BLACK ENTERPRISE. It's been 35 years since Publisher Earl G. Graves Sr. introduced BE to the world, intending for it to serve as a bible for black entrepreneurs, executives, and investors. And five years ago, we introduced the Black Wealth Initiative, a natural extension of our mission to ensure that black Americans gained their much-deserved slice of the American Dream. The cornerstone of our comprehensive wealth-building program has been the Declaration of Financial Empowerment. In the January 2000 issue, we wrote: "We challenge you, the reader, to sign our Declaration of Financial Empowerment ... This document, affectionately referred to as DOFE, is a blueprint for all African Americans. Following it will enable you to take control of your financial life ..."

For legions of our readers it has done just that. More than 100,000 people have adopted our DOFE principles and put them into action using the BE Wealth Building Kit--from saving and investing 10% to 15% of after-tax income to introducing children to sound financial and business practices. In fact, in this issue, we highlight a few success stories in the feature, "Here's to Five Years of DOFE." One such example is 27-year-old Althea Denkins, who has become a disciple of the DOFE principles, shedding her debt and engaging in a savings and investing program that will enable her to buy a home in two years.

But as we commemorate the positive impact of DOFE, the stakes are higher today than they were a half decade ago. Recent analysis of U.S. Census data shows that after the last recession, the wealth gap between white families and black and Hispanic families widened. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, white households had a median net worth greater than $88,000--11 times that of Hispanic households, which have a median net worth of $7,900, and 14 times that of African Americans households, which have a median net worth of roughly $6,000. What is the reason for this enormous disparity? Pew officials found that whites had more assets and were able to ride out the jobless recovery better than other groups. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank, maintains that a history of discrimination is the reason black and Hispanic wealth pales in comparison to that of their white counterparts.

This chasm is the reason we are more committed than ever to our role as wealth-building messengers. We will continue to be vigilant in encouraging our readership to value homeownership, saving and investing, and entrepreneurship as solid building blocks for wealth accumulation. In fact, we thought this message was so vital, we added a new feature tied to our twin anniversaries. We call it our "Ultimate Wealth Builder Series." For 12 months, we're going to give you a history lesson on black entrepreneurs and professionals who built lasting wealth and, collectively, encouraged millions to do the same through their example, their mentorship and, in some cases, their largesse. The individuals range from BE Entrepreneur of the Century A.G. Gaston, whose sound money management practices helped him found a string of funeral parlors, financial companies, and media entities that he passed on to his employees, to Bussell Simmons, who spawned an industry by taking hip-hop mainstream.

We start this series with John Rogers, chairman and CEO of Ariel Capital Management, No.1 on the BE ASSET MANAGERS list with more than $16 billion in assets under management. One of the black pioneers in the creation and marketing of mutual funds, he's made millions for institutional and individual investors in bull and bear markets for 20 years. His funds, Ariel and Ariel Appreciation, have been recognized among the industry's best by Morningstar and Lipper--the two leading mutual fund research firms--and just about every business publication in the nation.

Compiling these histories has been a labor of love for BE Vice President and Executive Editor Derek T. Dingle, who has chronicled and met a number of these trailblazers over the past 20 years. "These wealth builders have set a gold standard for African Americans," he says. "They have demonstrated what can be achieved through a new idea, bold action, and disciplined money management. They made some rather amazing achievements with meager resources. They offer some important lessons for us all."

--The Editors
COPYRIGHT 2005 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:About This Issue
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Previous Article:Homeownership is priority one.
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