Several reports released recently and circulated by members of the Black community in America paint a very dismal picture of the economic plight of Black Americans. According to one, the median wealth of the bottom 20 percent of whites is greater than the median household incomes of all Blacks (American data from Federal Reserve/Research Darity, Shapiro, Moore). It also says 60 percent of Blacks don’t own homes and don’t have enough wealth to feed their families for one week. Though these stats are questionable, it is true that the Black community is economically behind the eight ball. There are many reasons for this, but there are things that can be done to help mitigate these dire economic circumstances. Among others, one of the most obvious would be to create our own businesses. Another would be to spend our money with those businesses.
A true pioneer and advocate for the creating and operating of our own Black businesses was the late, great Rev. Dr. Webb Evans, who was the founder and president of the United American Progress Association (U.A.P.A.), now known as the United Black American Progress Association (U.B.A.P.A.). He was also a member of Operation P.U.S.H., Chatham Avalon Park Community Council, Black United Front, NAACP, Cathedral Baptist Church and the Baptist Pastors Conference of Chicago. He was famously known as “Mr. Buy Black” due to his constant efforts to get people to “Buy Black” as a method to get Blacks off of the economic bottom. He stated “…others can come to this country and within a short time they are doing better than Black Americans.” He also said that many people tell him that they don’t hear other races telling their people to shop with their race. His response was that they don’t have to be told because they are already doing it without being told. Moreover, he said, “If others lived in the community and were contributing to the welfare of the community, it would be different. But they don’t live in the community and their only interest is to come in and get the money out. Since we don’t have Black business owners bringing money from the Arab, Asian or Caucasian areas, Blacks should keep every dollar possible in the Black community by buying from Black businesses.”
Dr. Evans followed his own advice. During his active years in business, he helped manage two furniture stores and owned and operated two grocery stores and a bookstore. He started the U.A.P.A. in 1961 and went on a mission working 365 days a year trying to improve the economic plight of Black Americans by encouraging them to spend their money with Black businesses and to invest in Black communities in order to create jobs for Black people. He also participated in protest marches trying to encourage others to give Blacks jobs that he felt they were entitled to have. He participated in the Civil Rights Movement demonstrations and others. He said, “The greatest march in the world would be when Black people start marching with their dollars to Black-owned businesses.”
Rev. Dr. Webb Evans departed this life on February 23, 2015 at the age of 101. Because of his tireless efforts, on the 14th inaugural year anniversary of the National Black Business Month from August 1 to August 31, State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford submitted Resolution HR0608 to the 99th General Assembly to honor Rev. Dr. Webb Evans for his contributions. His legacy includes, but is not limited to, institution of the National Black Business Month in Illinois, helping in developing several Black banks including Seaway Bank and Illinois Savings and Loan Association among others, meeting with representatives from the United Nations, visiting Israel to study the lifestyles of Blacks in the Holy Land, and much, much more!
The bottom line is that Rev. Dr. Evans practiced what he preached in his long life of advocating for the economic well-being of Black Americans. He laid a mighty foundation, and it would be a shame if Black people across the United States don’t take heed of the wisdom that he offered and begin spending money with each other in a more aggressive manner. Today the U.B.A.P.A. is continuing this important work. Black Americans should respond to the call and Buy Black, Love Black, and Give Black, in honor of Rev. Dr. Webb Evans! A Luta Continua.