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Leaders React to Mike Bloomberg’s Greenwood Initiative

January 19, 2020

In a Speech in Tulsa, Mike Announced His Plan to Deliver Economic Justice for Black America

TULSA, OKLAHOMA — Today in a major speech, Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg announced the Greenwood Initiative, his plan to address the systemic bias that has kept many Black Americans from building wealth. He outlined his vision in a speech in Greenwood, a neighborhood in Tulsa known for its role in the historical discrimination and destruction of Black wealth in America. Greenwood was home to Black Wall Street in the early 20th century, the most prominent district of Black-owned businesses in the United States. In 1921, the community was decimated in the Black Wall Street Massacre. Last year, Mike visited Tulsa for the launch of an art project that commemorates Black Wall Street.

Reactions from leaders include:

Oklahoma State Senator Kevin Matthews:

“In a better world, nobody would ever have to chair a Race Massacre Centennial Commission because race massacres wouldn’t happen. The Greenwood massacre is a horrible thing that elicits deep feelings and emotions even to this day. The African Americans who lived in this once thriving business district known as Black Wall Street were massacred by a white mob that resented their very existence. Hundreds died, 1,200 homes were burned and businesses destroyed. Mike Bloomberg used his philanthropy to honor the memory of these citizens. He has since helped get the word out about the horrors that took place here and shone a spotlight on racism, racial inequity and the generational legacy of both. After meeting Mike and visiting with his team, I am impressed with his ambitious plans to put federal dollars behind the quest for equity through African American targeted homeownership programs, entrepreneurship programs and neighborhood improvements. Those around him describe him as a consensus builder who has a passion for helping others succeed. When we stop looking at skin color and the many things that divide us, we all succeed. We are all in this together.”

Monroe Nichols, Oklahoma State Representative and Mike Bloomberg 2020 Senior Advisor:

“Today, Mike Bloomberg unveiled his plan to accelerate economic mobility for African Americans – and as a Tulsan, a Black American and someone who has spent years at the intersection of government and advocacy, I am proud to support him. By coming here and honoring the legacy of the Greenwood Massacre, he has shown that he understands the persistent hardship that African Americans have faced in this country, and that it’s time we stop asking so many people to work twice as hard for a tinier slice of the pie. I stand with Mike Bloomberg in his efforts to make sure all Americans can build wealth and get ahead, and I applaud him for looking racism in the face and proposing us a way forward that acknowledges our history and rewrites our reality. This race is about what someone has done, and what they can do – and as a businessman, mayor and philanthropist he’s built the most expansive platform on progressive values of anyone in the race. With that kind of record, Mike will get it done in the White House, too.”

Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, Mike Bloomberg 2020 National Co-Chair:

“The economic and cultural contributions of African Americans to this great nation cannot be overstated. Mike Bloomberg understands this and will work with us to make sure that economic opportunity is real for all in America. He’s looking to federally back 100,000 new African American businesses, make homeownership a reality for 1 million first-time African American homeowners, and to dismantle systemic discrimination. And Mike is going to put $70 billion into neighborhoods that need it most. When thoughtful, strategic investment comes, opportunity follows. Mike is a doer and he will get the job done.”

Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Kentucky, Mike Bloomberg 2020 National Co-Chair:

“Fighting for racial equity is a moral imperative. Mike Bloomberg knows that too many African Americans have been held back by racial disparities in our education, employment, housing and criminal justice systems. His plan to dismantle discrmination, create generational wealth and invest in distressed neighborhoods will help close the racial wealth gap. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s a smart investment to make in our future. Increasing opportunity for African Americans across the country will create new businesses, better jobs, scientific breakthroughs and so many other things that will benefit all of us.”

Former Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mike Bloomberg 2020 National Political Chair:

“African Americans have been contributing to American life at every level for the entire history of this great nation, but we still lag in homeownership, and as business owners, in terms of pay and opportunity in general. Our rights are often undermined by racism. We are discriminated against when we try to buy homes, and so many of our talented entrepreneurs lack access to seed money, so it’s difficult to start businesses. As a result, we are always playing catch up. Legislation will help, but it’s not the only path to equity. Mike has a plan. He will help 1 million African Americans become first-time homeowners and will help more of us participate in the banking system and be recognized by credit scoring companies. He’s calling for the enforcement of fair lending laws. It’s a good start. We also need to sponsor entrepreneurship programs that help launch and fund African American entrepreneurs. Mike has launched programs like this in New York and across the country and he will put federal dollars behind public-private partnerships so they are an integral part of solving the inclusivity puzzle. He is on our side and he will get it done.”

Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, California, Mike Bloomberg 2020 National Co-Chair:

“The lack of economic mobility in this country is one of the primary issues facing Americans today. When nearly twice as many African Americans born into the lowest quintile remain stuck there at age 40 as whites, we need to acknowledge that the systems we have in place to lift people up simply aren’t working for everybody.”

Karen Freeman-Wilson, former mayor of Gary, Indiana, and first Black woman to serve as mayor in the city and the state:

“It is so meaningful to have a candidate talk honestly about the systemic barriers that have held African Americans back for generations. It’s also great to see his team dedicate their time and energy to work on solutions for what we’ve always thought to be intractable problems in our country. He believes we can do better and he wants to do better. That’s why I’m supporting Mike and why I know in my heart that he’s the best candidate for President of the United States. Mike led the most diverse city in America for three terms. He will devote time, attention, and resources to these sensitive issues and get it right. The disparity and lack of equity have gone on for too long and it’s time to make it right.”

David Banks, President & CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation:

“I’ve seen firsthand Mike’s commitment to increasing opportunity for African American families. Under Mike Bloomberg’s leadership as New York City’s mayor, I co-chaired the Young Men’s Initiative, the country’s most ambitious effort to support young men of color. We focused on addressing the many disparities Black young men face in education, employment, and health, among others. Our initiative even inspired President Obama to launch My Brother’s Keeper. Mike got things done for the Black community in New York City. He improved education – including establishing the Eagle Academy schools, which I’m honored to lead as the President & CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation. Building on Mike’s bold and impactful programs in New York City, the Greenwood Initiative is a great blueprint to advance racial equity throughout our country. Mike Bloomberg will be the president we need to unite our country and expand opportunity for all Americans.”

Geoffrey Canada, Founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone:

“We need bold and comprehensive solutions to address the generational poverty that prevents too many African American children from reaching their full potential. Mike Bloomberg knows this. When he gets to the White House, he’s going to invest $70 billion in the neighborhoods that need it most. Like me, he’s a big believer in innovation and data. He’s willing to try new things and isn’t afraid to fail, and he will focus on evaluation to expand the programs that work. I’ve known Mike Bloomberg for many years — and I know he’s a real leader. As president, Mike will unite our country and bring us all together to close the racial wealth gap so that every family in America has the opportunity to thrive.”

C. Virginia Fields, Founder and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on Health and Former Manhattan Borough President:

“I’ve worked with Mike Bloomberg for a long time, and he’s shown himself to be a problem solver on so many tough issues. He’s been fighting the good fight on racial equity, health care, gun violence and education for years. With the Greenwood Initiative, Mike has set forward a much-needed plan for significantly reducing the racial wealth gap that’s practical, achievable and believable.”

John W. Rogers, Jr., Founder, Chairman, Co-CEO, and Chief Investment Officer of Ariel Investments, the first African American owned asset management company in the United States:

“As the descendant of one of Black Wall Street’s leaders, I’m glad Mike Bloomberg is in Tulsa today to announce the Greenwood Initiative, his plan to end racial discrimination and close the wealth gap between white and Black Americans. This initiative is named after the Greenwood Massacre, the single worst attack on Black Americans in our nation’s history, and what it represents — the destruction of Black Wall Street, the wealthiest Black community in the country at the time. The African American community in Tulsa rebuilt Black Wall Street with no help from the local or federal government. This is perhaps the most extreme example, but Mike understands our government has failed Black Americans in many other ways over the years. With Mike in the White House, the federal government will play a major role in rectifying the racial disparities in all aspects of our society that have contributed to generational poverty among too many African American families. Based on his record as New York City’s mayor — raising graduation rates for African American students to record highs and launching innovative programs to support young men of color and minority-owned businesses — I know Mike will get it done and increase opportunity for Black families all across America.”

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