Nearly six months after the founder of Black Business Month died, the organization he created to push the issue-Recycling Black Dollars (RBD)-kicked off the month-long recognition with a call to arms message during its regular Tuesday breakfast meeting held at the Papa West Cafe in Leimert Park Village.
The keynote speaker at the breakfast was Rosie Milligan, owner of Milligan Books and creator of the Black Writers on Tour program, and she has just completed a book dedicated to Nassardeen. One of the questions she asked during her talk struck at the heart of what the late entrepreneur was trying to do: “How many of you have done business with another person in this room in the last 30 days?”
When only two hands went up out of about 25 people in the room, Milligan pointed out that those inactions are part of the reason why the African American community is in a crisis.
Dealing with this “crisis” has been the focus of RBD since Nassardeen launched the organization in 1989. His vision was to motivate and encourage black professionals, businesspersons, corporations, and consumers alike, to invest in the future of the African American business community, through patronage and support.
Among Nassardeen’s tactics to achieve this vision were promoting black banks by having residents open up accounts at these institutions, working in collaboration with Miller Brewing to hold a business plan competition for young emerging African American entrepreneurs, and pushing for recognition of African American companies by starting Black Business Month in April.
Nassardeen died last October, but the organization he founded and grew has continued on, and this month hosts its first black business month celebration without the RBD founder.