Black Money STL: Connecting Visions into a Movement of Solidarity
It started two years ago after a recommendation from a friend that I met Gabbi Burks. She is a unique, dynamic, and talented individual who grew tired of the violence, inequality, and the ineptitude that plagued St. Louis and its surrounding communities. After attending several of her events as an attendee or participating in a panel, we agreed that it was time to add another dimension to her established efforts, A Conscious STL. The results of this effort launched, Black Money STL. After several months of growing and building together, I felt that it was now time to introduce the group’s vision, purpose, and intent.
Meeting every first Sunday of each month from 2 – 3:30 p.m., Terrence Butler and Gabbi join me in leading discussions of building financial principles of growth, wealth-creation, self-identity and entrepreneurship. Attendance has fluctuated from two to an average of 15 people per session after five months. The attendees range from entrepreneurs who own her own bakery, a real estate agent, a married couple in tech and comic industry, and an author/speaker who engages young Black minds in high schools and beyond, amongst other uniquely talented individuals. Mr. Butler brings his wealth of experience in insurance, Forex, and financial background to help guide our attendees in a path towards financial prosperity.
What is unique about our meetings is that it has grown immensely in content and character. This afternoon, I watched one of the original attendees demonstrate the expansion of growth of her knowledge in making a solid business strategy to assist two business owners looking to expand their reach in their respective industry. Looking around the room, I noticed that these are the future leaders of our community because we are coming together in a communal way. We are coming together like family, and we are sharing our knowledge and information because we collectively believe in a vision that we can change the dynamics and conversation of St. Louis in a way that redirects the conversation of social change.
Every month, I challenge the room to state what they have accomplished in the past 30 days and their plans for the next to provide accountability and pride in their accomplishments. The group is also challenged to stick to their budget, set short, intermediate, and long-term plans. We have discussed how to improve our credit, understanding basic tax law principles, and we also discuss current political and world events. This group has morphed into a meeting of leadership, because we believe that for the tools and resources provided each month, can be disseminated to others out in the community. As stated in today’s session, we should concern ourselves about building businesses that extend to global and regional opportunities to reinvest and rebuild in our community. We also encourage each other to understand that failure is ok, if we learn from our mistakes to make us stronger and persevere. We have grown to encourage not only entrepreneurial growth but learning how to connect with others in the business world to expand our reach and eliminating the barriers of economic and racial disparity. We discuss accountability for our actions and understanding that we are responsible for building our futures, while working together to extend our reach in different professions in senior level positions, political positions locally and within our state. We understand that we may not die wealthy, but we have an opportunity to “Have your picture shown in your family reunion photos 70 years from now to discuss the sacrifices we made today to provide those in the room a better tomorrow.”
I am very optimistic that growth is progressive and hope springs eternal because we can celebrate our rich and unique heritage as Blacks and continue to change the narrative of how we are viewed by others. We challenge each other to be more assertive and to learn how leaning heavily on the dark history without discussing a plan to move forward puts us in behind the curve when compared to our counterparts. Each month, the conversation grows, and we talk more of building together and extending our reach beyond our meeting place in North St. Louis city, and becoming an influential group of leaders that will learn how to “not just build black-owned business, but grow black-owned businesses to be global.”
There are many obstacles to making these visions into a reality, but for every month I drive away after our meeting, I feel more reinvigorated by the growth and development from the team that we have become. Although I lead the facilitation of the group, we are all moving as one solid unit growing, learning, and building with each other. As these sessions continue to grow, we anticipate expanding our platform to engage civic and business leaders in the community and beyond. We are not an organization, we are merely a team of individuals who believe and desire the same goals that are working together to help reshape the conversation in our schools, community, households, and our finances.
We continue to look for small business owners, millennials, students, and others in the Black community to come to our monthly sessions to inspire, motivate, network, and grow other Black minds in a way that most have yet to wholly experience and become part of a greater good, as well as becoming a sorely needed voice for generations to come.
Black Money STL meets monthly each first Sunday, 2-3:30 p.m. at 1400 N. Market, St. Louis, MO. Special thanks to Mindful Movements (http://www.m2stl.com) for allowing us to use the space monthly.
For more information, please feel free to contact:
Dr. Terrence Duncan – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Gabbi Burks – email@example.com
Mr. Terrence Butler – firstname.lastname@example.org