State of Black America Authors and Essays

Each edition of the State of Black America contains thoughtful commentary and insightful analysis from leading figures and thought leaders in politics, the corporate arena, NGOs, academia and popular culture. Learn more about the dynamic authors who contributed essays spanning from education and entrepreneurship to media and social justice. 


Calling the Shots: The Rise of African-American Entrepreneurship

By Kevin E. Hooks
President & Chief Executive Officer
Las Vegas Urban League

The United States of America was founded on a narrative of self-reliance. African-American men and women have consistently labored and built this country upwards—even before we were paid for our hard work and ingenuity. Our collective muscle built industries to profit-making greatness, and that legacy continues, but now we are at the helm—and we are calling the shots.

Young, Jobless and Black: How Opportunity Works to Ensure Progress

By Shari E. Runner
President & Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Urban League

There is an immense wealth gap in our nation’s city centers that causes African Americans, particularly our youth, to live quite differently from their white peers. Many of the issues we are observing in our communities: the violence, the poverty, the low graduation rates, the disproportionately high incarceration rates—are symptomatic of structural inequities that cause our Black and brown youth to bury themselves in an underground economy.

Baby Boomer Dreams Go Bust After the Great Recession

By Valarie Shultz-Wilson
President & Chief Executive Officer
Urban League of Southern Connecticut

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonprofit organization that dates the start and end of recessions, the Great Recession began December 2007 and ended in June 2009, but the lingering effects of what is widely viewed as the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression continues to devastate Black Americans around the country. 

“Earn It. Keep It. Grow It.” Smart Consumers Score Greater Economic Mobility

By Stephanie Hightower
President & Chief Executive Officer
Columbus Urban League

One in three families in Columbus, OH lives paycheck to paycheck. People living in poorer zip codes can spend up to 10% of their income only paying off payday lenders. The Columbus Urban League understood—and understands—that breaking the cycle of poverty requires more than a job. It requires building financial stability, sustaining wealth creation and passing on a legacy.

Education Equity in Louisiana: Protecting our Progress

By Erika McConduit, Esq.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Urban League of Louisiana

The Urban League of Louisiana continues to be a powerful voice for educational equity in New Orleans and across the state. Its role in the education landscape has expanded with the establishment of the Education Empowerment Program (EEP), an initiative launched two years ago to increase the agency’s policy presence in the education reform movement and to engage the African-American business community in the education reform dialogue in Louisiana.  

A Revolution of Values in the Marketplace

Paul T. Jones
Founder, Co-Chairman
Chief Investment Officer
Tudor Investment Corporation

Martin Whittaker
Chief Executive Officer
JUST Capital

For the simple truth is that capitalism is leaving too many behind and needs to be reshaped to reflect the needs of all people. The chart below makes plain the direct correlation between national income inequality levels (on the horizontal axis) and a multitude of social, health and economic ills (represented vertically). In his “Revolution of Values” speech in 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.”  The makings of such a revolution are now underway in the capital markets, and not a moment too soon.