National Civil Rights Museum to host ‘Building Black Wealth’ event

By   –  Reporter, Memphis Business Journal

Listen to this article     4 min

The National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM) is hosting an upcoming event to address the issue of wealth disparity in the U.S.

The organization is set to have a free hybrid event on Thursday, April 27. The event, “Building Black Wealth: Past, Present, and Future,” is scheduled to take place in-person at the museum and also virtually for those unable to attend.

The occasion is part of the museum’s Catalyst for Change Distinguished Speaker Series. The focus of the April 27 event is on economic empowerment with an in-depth look at the history of structural racism and the systems created to separate Black Americans from access to such things as higher education, purchasing homes, and high-paying jobs.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the wealth gap has consistently gotten larger since 2010. White Americans hold 84% of the total wealth in the U.S., while making up 60% of the population. While Black Americans hold only 4% of the wealth, they make up 13% of the population. In 2016, the average Black household held $124,000 less wealth than the average white household, according to the Brookings Institute.

Russ Wigginton, Ph.D., president of the NCRM, said those attending the event and watching virtually should see that the museum is committed to working with different organizations to find solutions to help close those economic gaps.

“Attendees are going to be made aware of how poignant the wealth gaps still are and introduced to best practices and effective strategies to not perpetuate what has not worked in the past,” he said. “[And the event] is to be a reminder that communities are only as strong as their most vulnerable citizens.”

A group of panelists is expected to discuss and analyze the systematic economic disinvestment of Black people throughout history and its effect on the present-day wealth gap.

The panelists include:

  • Jozelle Booker, president and CEO of Mid-South Minority Business Council (MMBC) Continuum, whose work includes supporting the growth and development of minority and women-owned businesses through advocacy, business consulting, capacity building, public and private contact connections, and access to capital
  • Charles McKinneyNeville Frierson Bryan chair of Africana Studies and associate professor of history at Rhodes College, whose areas of expertise include the civil rights/Black power era, African American activism, and African American politics
  • Erik Stevenson, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Greater Memphis Chamber, whose work is concentrated around developing communities that have been traditionally underserved

Through an analysis of labor, unemployment, and economic development, panelists hope to inspire action toward building a future of economic safety and prosperity for the Black community, according to NCRM officials. Among the goals of the panelist discussion is designing strategies for building capital equity; entrepreneurship; effective social programs; and policy reform.

“Economic empowerment is one of three pillars, along with education, arts, and culture,” Wigginton said, “[that] the NCRM emphasizes to complement our mission, which is grounded in Dr. [Martin Luther] King’s legacy of humanity and justice. And [his legacy] demands that we educate on the American civil rights movement and its ongoing struggle, and that we are a catalyst for positive social change. Despite examples of improvements, economic disparity remains a systemic problem that limits too many people from reaching their full potential and negatively impacts society at large.”

This article was originally published at “

You Might Also Be Interested In…


Take the Ultimate Memphis Food Tour!

Memphis isn’t just famous for its soulful music–it’s safe to say we have some of the best food in the […]


Free Things to Do in Memphis!

Memphis, Tennessee, is a city renowned for its rich musical heritage, mouthwatering barbecue, and vibrant cultural scene. But did you […]


Your Guide to Memphis Sports!

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to break out the face paint, secure your tickets, find your seats, and make some […]