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Valuing our stock.

African-Americans add great value to this nation, as hard workers, well-trained professionals, quality managers and visionary entrepreneurs. But, too often, we are not as committed to investing in ourselves and our institutions as we should be. This situation is changing for the better.

As this issue's cover story indicates, BET Holdings Inc.'s initial public offering of stock is one example of that change.

The Washington, D.C.-based communications company--whose properties include Black Entertainment Television (which produces black-oriented cable programming) and YSB and Emerge magazines--became the first black-owned company on the New York Stock Exchange by demonstrating investment value, in terms of both past performance and growth potential. The recognition of BET's value by the capital markets is also an acknowledgment of our value as black consumers. That value was not lost on African-Americans, many of whom bought individual stocks for the first time as the BET IPO was substantially over-subscribed.

When we invest in ourselves, others will recognize our value. African-American are not alone in learning this lesson. Several Caribbean nations are securing commitments from hospitality and tourism industry businesses to hire native islanders at all levels of the tourism industry, not just in housekeeping and food services. Filling more middle- and senior-management jobs with citizens of the respective nations creates greater individual opportunities for better-paid employment and career advancement. The higher wages also help empower the citizens as consumers who can better stimulate and strengthen the local economy. Among the best examples of Caribbean nations effectively investing in its people are the Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Barbados. For example, one of the world's finest hotels, the Sandy Lane in Barbados, has Barbadian managers in sales and marketing as well as in guest services. The hotel's U.S. sales manager, George Forte, started out as head bell captain when Sandy Lane opened 30 years ago. This is in large part due to my good friend of 25 years, Richard R. Williams, the first native Barbadian to ever serve as general manager of this prestigious hotel.

We must take in ourselves. We must determine, appreciate and demonstrate our own value in the larger marketplace. It's an investment that cannot fail to pay off.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:investing in African-American businesses
Author:Graves, Earl G.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Column
Date:May 1, 1992
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