Mel Banks II says his career path was determined for him. From his first part-time job, he has been traveling down a path that has led him to be a pre-eminent publisher of the first Bible for children of color, which features uniquely authentic illustrations of Bible characters who are “people of color.” The founder of Urban Spirit!, which creates, publishes and distributes Bibles, books and gifts for urban America, is inspired each day to “to help others see their vision with the same intensity or clarity.”
Banks founded the company in 1993, and over the last decade, he’s created Bibles for young teens – The Wisdom and Grace Bibles for girls and the Strength and Honor Bible for boys and expanded to form Nia Publishing Co. Inc., which publishes Women of Color Study Bible and the Men of Color Study Bible.
Urban Spirit! remains the only African American-owned publishers of Bibles in the United States of America. Read what Banks has to say.
How did you determine your career path?
It appears my career path was determined for me. Each part-time job, project and area of interest I pursued with some seriousness led me to do what I am doing now. From paper boy, print shop at school to photographer and editor of newspapers and yearbook. Then working in a sales gig with Time/Life magazine, then books and my father’s own publishing success led me to become a publisher.
What other industries connect to your career choice?
Out of college I did a stint as a jock on V-103 in Chicago on the midnight to 5 a.m. shift. It helped me to understand major markets and the structure it takes to reach large groups of people.
Describe the skill sets that are essential to future business leader and innovators.
Creativity, focus, determination and a keen ability to spot a need that requires filling: faster or better and profitably.
How do you evaluate your success?
Check any Bible. Habbakuk 2:2
Names three books that changed how you saw life that you would recommend to others.
Children of Color Holy Bible, Women of Color Study Bible, and Men of Color Study Bible
Community success based on what you do in the community means what to you?
It means everything as an entrepreneur whose main product requires the support of the community.
What’s your favorite vacation spot(s)?
St. Lucia and South Africa — two places I have yet to travel.