Discover the History of Black Business
- Being a pioneer and going against the grain of traditional convention is a hallmark of Black business - or so it would seem to Kamau Austin, the Internet marketer with almost evangelical zeal. Upon reflection, Austin makes an impassioned review on what he calls "the 4 stages of Black business development." He feels he is riding the latest wave of Black business success in the present international business stage. "International business for African Americans is being made more possible by the Internet and information technology," forecasts Austin.
Austin further posits that "Black business has gone through the emancipation stage, the segregation stage, the integration stage, and is now in the international stage." He asserts, "This is a very promising time for the growth of African American business." Much of Austin's opinions come from his experience running his own Internet businesses. Austin is the author of a well-received book on search engine marketing entitled, Always On Top: How to Get a Top Ranking for Your Website Every Time!
He is currently receiving national exposure in major magazines and radio stations like XM Satellite Radio, American Urban Radio Network (AURN), and even Fortune Magazine Small Business. Why is Austin's story so compelling for the national media? "I can only speculate why the national media is covering our business lately," says Austin, "It may be related to the central marketing importance of search engine-driven Internet marketing. Search engine and eBay-driven Internet marketing offers Black businesspersons the best opportunity to prosper in the new international informationeconomy."
But why does Austin feel that international business empowered by the Internet is the latest and greatest development in the future of Black business? Do his insights have any merit?
Austin responds with the following anecdotal illustrations for his paradigm of black history development, "The first stage of black business history was the emancipation stage. During the emancipation stage, some Blacks were able to acquire their freedom and owned some land-even in slave-holding states. Although these ex-slaves owned land, becoming financially successful during this stage was very limited and challenging.
"The 'segregation stage' was certainly part of life for the first free blacks and their communities. Since Blacks were isolated or segregated into their ethnic communities (many times not by their choosing), an inherent merchant class of black entrepreneurs and professionals developed. This early merchant class of entrepreneurs and professionals serviced segregated Black communities and enclaves. The symbolic black entrepreneur of this period is, of course, Madame C.J. Walker, America's first Black millionaire.
Communities like Black Wall Street and Rosewood are cited as enclaves of a black merchant and entrepreneurial class of neighborhood. The peak of this period was the 1970s and 80s with the rise of the Black media outlets like Ebony, Jet, and Black Enterprise magazines.
The Integration stage of Black business was and is concurrently tied to the access of African Americans to better education in the nation's accredited and top colleges or universities. This education allowed some Blacks to become managers and CEOs of major corporations. Eventually, many of these managers began their own businesses and gained access to capital. The symbolic figure of the beginning of this period is Reginald Lewis, the first African American to own a billion-dollar business, TLC Beatrice Holdings.