“There’s a difference between being broke and being poor,” explains John Hope Bryant, HOPE founder, chairman and CEO. “Being broke is economic, but being poor is a disabling frame of mind, a depressed condition of your spirit and you must vow never to be poor again.”
“Very few people in the world get a chance to change the world and John is one of them,” offers Bill Rogers, chairman and CEO of SunTrust Banks Inc. when he addressed the standing room only crowd at 101 Jackson St., the home of HOPE Inside at Ebenezer. “The hand reached out and touched you, you have no choice but to execute. You have been doing it in ways that make us proud to be great partners for you.” Rogers addressed the crowd while praising Bryant.
If you didn’t get the memo, Bryant is rebuilding the path to the middle class. One of his many success stories is Ebony Brown, a member of Operation HOPE’s 700 Credit Score Club, an initiative to move average credit scores from the range of 550 to the 650 range. Brown learned the hard way how it feels to be completely qualified for a job but not hired due to a poor credit score. She candidly shared her story of trial to triumph at the grand opening celebration of the the HOPE Inside Ebenezer office.
“I applied for the 700 Credit Score Club when my personal credit score was 520. I honestly believed there was no way I could reach 700. I attended the classes. I receive information and executed it well. I received the information from my counselor and by my next appointment, my credit score had risen 56 points. After a year in the program, I increased my credit score over 100 points. I was excited. Today, I am super excited to share it is well above 700.”
Brown’s energy livened up the room as Bryant proceeded to keep the program moving.
“When we start talking about who gets to heaven, I think the guy who had the courage to believe in someone he didn’t know to make a dream real, to write a seven-figure check to people in the inner city and supposedly not his client, to believe in that which you could not see, touch or feel is the greatest sense of faith and spirituality you can define. I know you’re going to heaven,” Bryant says during his speech with his eyes fixed on Rogers. “You and Jenner Wood and Jim Wells believe in a dream that has been made real.”
Bryant, a prolific writer and eloquent speaker, brought greetings from Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King and Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock who were absent from this special occasion due to travel. “It struck me,” Bryant begins. “We’re in crowds but we’re all alone. Eagles don’t fly in packs. You have never seen a flock of eagles. I say this because so few people understand what we’re trying to do.”
In his explanation, Bryant says we all prejudged and assumed these bank executives don’t get it. “Not only did Rogers, Wood, Wells, [et al] get what we did. Bill said trust me on how we are going to roll this out. He said, ‘We are going to roll HOPE Inside out in Washington, D.C., Memphis, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia.’ It was prophetic,” Bryant emphasizes.
“Atlanta is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his global home. In April 1968, Dr. King got on a plane to Memphis, where he was silenced and killed on April 4. And in Washington, D.C., where we opened two HOPE Inside offices, Dr. King had planned to attend the Poor People’s Campaign following his trip to Memphis.”
Dr. King never made it to D.C. to spawn the “third movement” — poverty. He’d already fought the Vietnam War (war) and led the Civil Rights Movement (racism). Addressing poverty was his third agenda as he made clear in one of his speeches, “The only way to achieve social justice in a capitalist country is economic parity.” God’s promises are always fulfilled to the letter (Psalm 89: 35-36). Operation HOPE has taken up the mantle.
Congressman David Scott, UGA past president Michael Adams and 100 Black Men’s Tommy Dortch were among the list of esteemed guests.
This writer was proud to be one of the first 150 guests to receive an autographed copy of John Hope Bryant’s new book How the Poor Can Save Capitalism, compliments of SunTrust Banks Inc.