NEWARK, N.J., March 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — In an effort to send a clear message to Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, in an election year, national and state community and business leaders held a virtual town hall that received over 20,000 views on social media platforms on Sunday. Roland Martin hosted the event and has comitted to hosting a series of town halls in New Jersey throughout 2021 to expose disparities facing Black and Brown people in the state. Some of the state’s economic, educational and social disparities rival those of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.
The participants shined a light on these deep racial disparities and discussed plans for engaging Governor Murphy and other legislators in a call to action. Senate President Stephen Sweeney was the keynote for the prior town hall and received accolades for his public commitment to sponsoring legislation to address the disparities.
Martin interviewed Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League; the honorable New Jersey State Senator Ronald L. Rice; Civil Rights Attorney Ryan Haygood, who is president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice; the Rev. Dr. David Jefferson Sr., Esq. Pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church; and Jacob Walthour Jr., founder and CEO of Blueprint Capital Advisors, New Jersey’s first and only African American asset management firm.
“The hard reality is that when it comes to economics in the 21st century, Black people are losing ground,” Morial said. “We are losing ground in terms of homeownership. We have lost 30 to 40 percent of Black businesses in the pandemic.”
“There has been too much rhetoric about women and minority set asides,” Rice said. “Every governor has given us rheotoric to suggest they’re doing something when in reality, they are not doing anything.”
“What I experienced on Wall Street does not compare to the discrimination I have experienced in the State of New Jersey over the last five years,” said Walthour. Blueprint Capital Advisors brought a racial discrimination, theft, fraud and racketeering lawsuit against the state of New Jersey and Larry Fink’s Blackrock, OwlRock LLC and Cliffwater LLC. “The Governor refused to take my allegations seriously and then refused to investigate the matter even when called upon by the NAACP, the National Urban League and the National Action Network. His legal team is now engaged in an all-out effort to prevent access to public documents we believe prove systemic discrimination. He did not grow up in democratic politics and does not embody democratic ideals,” added Walthour.
In addition to Blueprint’s racial discrimination suit, Blackrock is also being sued for racial discrimination former employee Brittanie McGee who is alleging the firm gave her white male counterparts “more desirable assignments, higher pay and promotions.” On February 18, 2021, former employees Mugi N. Nguyai and Essma Bengabsia, released a scathing open letter on Medium.com detailing their experience with the company. Walthour also noted that Larry Fink’s BlackRock was sent an open letter from large institutional investors displeased with their support for over 140 Republicans that attempted to overturn the presidential election.
“The condition of Black people in Camden, Trenton, and other parts of New Jersey is absolutely heartbreaking. To do nothing and say nothing is to be complicit in the pain that economic injustice inflicts on Black people,” Jefferson said.
“New Jersey has a $80 billion public pension fund but there is no sense of how much money is going to Black businesses. The question should be, ‘of all the money spent in New Jersey, and in America, how much is going to African Americans,'” Martin said. “That is the question we should all be asking.”
“The reality is that Governor Murphy’s Administration has refused to provide data detailing the use of Black-owned businesses to fulfill government contracts. The administration also delayed the beginning of a “disparity study” for the first three years of his administration which many believed would prove systemic racism and discrimination in awarding of government contracts. The report is scheduled to be done after the 2021 election,” said Jefferson. According to Haygood, 94% of Black voters showed up to vote for Gov. Murphy.
“To a great extent, if you look at African American businesses of size and scale, many got their genesis in minority business set asides championed first by African American mayors such as Maynard Jackson of Atlanta, Coleman Young of Detroit, Marion Barry of Washington, D.C., my late father, Dutch Morial of New Orleans,” Morial added. “We must demand that government policies at the municipal, state, federal, as well as airport and transit authorities must be held accountable to do business with African American business owners.”
“One of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last stops before he was assassinated was in New Jersey. He came to build support for the Poor People’s Campaign, and 50 years after he came to Newark, the individual wealth of Black people in this state is $179, less than the cost of a laptop,” Haygood said. “New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the country, second only to Maryland. The median net wealth for white families is $352,000,” Haygood added.
“The racial wealth gap was created, nurtured and produced by public policy, and there must be policy to right these wrongs,” Morial said. “While the reality of the last 40 years is that we have seen the beginning of change, there have been fierce headwinds against us and much more must be done to achieve equity and justice.”
SOURCE Blueprint Capital Advisors
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