Dr. Ken Harris and The National Business League launch ‘Black Economic Freedom Movement’ to digitize 1M Black businesses by 2028

The Nation’s First National Organization for Black Business Celebrates 122nd Anniversary at Home of Founder Booker T. Washington During National Black History Month
Mayor Lawrence F. Haygood, Jr., Mayor of Tuskegee; Dr. Charlotte P. Morris, 9th President, Tuskegee University; Dr. Ken L. Harris, President/CEO, The National Business League (Photo provided)

A campaign that aims to enhance the digital capacity of 1 million Black-owned businesses and grow their revenue by engaging customers through technology is being introduced in Tuskegee at the 122nd anniversary of the National Business League (NBL).

A historic announcement was made Aug. 22 and 23 concerning a project the NBL is spearheading. The goal is to transition 1 million Black-owned businesses into the digital economy by 2028. The five-year campaign, the Black Economic Freedom Movement, will kick off in January 2023 to relaunch the NBL with local city chapters throughout all 50 states and internationally. This will start with a $1.3 million newly designed organizational technology platform that has been developed to serve as a catalyst for the digital transformation and empowerment of Black-owned businesses.

Dr. Ken L. Harris, the organization’s 16th national president and CEO, said, “As we pivot toward a post-pandemic economy, on the cusp of extreme Black racial injustice, the National Business League has jumped with both feet into the digital age. For Black businesses globally, the revolution won’t be televised; it shall be digitized.”

Industry research has shown that 40% of Black-owned businesses permanently closed their doors or were in dire condition, significantly hampered by the digital divide, during the COVID pandemic. A key factor in the decline of Black-owned businesses wasthe inability to access technology and mobility demands for consumers to purchase commodities, goods, products, and services online – in addition to Black business owners facing insurmountable economic, systematic, and institutional barriers that have historically plagued growth and development. 

“When Tuskegee Founder Booker T. Washington envisioned the National Business League, he wanted to create opportunities for economic empowerment for Black businesses through collaboration,” said Dr. Charlotte Morris, president of Tuskegee University. “We are honored to be a part of an anniversary celebration marking 122 impactful years.”

The National Business League’s vision is to develop and drive the appropriate digital ecosystem for 3.2 million Black-owned businesses to thrive across America and internationally. The campaign will kick off with the NBL’s regional offices in Detroit, Atlanta and Los Angeles and the national headquarters in Washington, D.C., then move to the NBL’s largest local chapters in cities, historic towns, and settlements with the highest concentration of Black-owned businesses.

The three-point focus of the Black Economic Freedom movement campaign includes

  • League Digitalization:
    The National Business League will become one of the first national trade associations in the U.S. to go completely digital with a $1.3 million technology infrastructure upgrade, including a reimagined website, an online chapter portal, a mobile app, virtual meeting and webinar tools, social media platforms, a resource marketplace and an LMS system.
  • Digital-Ready Assessment Tool:
    The National Business League will launch its digital-ready online assessment tool to gauge its members’ digital readiness in the marketplace while making a concerted effort to connect technology and mobility resources to help close the digital divide for Black businesses and start-ups.
  • Digital Resource Marketplace:
    The National Business League will also deploy online resources to help Black businesses and professional entrepreneurs go digital over the next five years by providing members a digital marketplace to help them educate, promote, grow, and hire in cities and chapters 

“The city of Tuskegee is proud to co-host the National Business League for the 122nd year anniversary celebration and historic Black Economic Freedom announcement,” said Lawrence F. Haygood, Jr., Mayor of Tuskegee, Alabama. Haygood also said, “The NBL and the city in partnership through the National Business League Tuskegee Chapter look forward to continuing a long tradition of supporting and being a historical beacon for local Black businesses in Tuskegee while also being an intricate part of the league’s national movement.”

NBL 122nd Anniversary Celebration Activities, Aug. 22-23, 2022 (Media Invited)

  • WELCOME RECEPTION: Welcome and Visit to the Tuskegee History Center (Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. CST)
  • BOOKER T’s TOWNS PLAY:Booker T’s Towns Play at the Tuskegee Repertory Theater (Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. CST), 201 South Main Street, Tuskegee, Alabama
  • NATIONAL PRESS CONFERENCE: National Business League Press Conference: The Oaks, Booker T. Washington’s former home, Tuskegee University, 905 Montgomery Road (Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. CST)
  • ANNIVERSARY LUNCHEON:The NBL 122nd Anniversary Black Business Luncheon at Logan Hall, Tuskegee University campus (Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm CST)
  • BOOKER T. WASHINGTON TOUR:Visit theBooker Taliaferro Washington Sr.Monument, Grave and Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Sites (Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm CST)


 About the National Business League

Booker T. Washington founded theNational Business Leagueon August 23, 1900. It is the first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan and nonsectarian Black business, and professional trade association in the country. It has 120,000 members nationwide and 125 Fortune 500 corporate partners, with regional offices in Atlanta, Georgia, Detroit, Michigan, and Los Angeles, California, and headquarters in Washington, DC, as well as city league chapters throughout all 50 states and internationally. The organization advocates for the interest of 3.2 million black businesses throughout the United States and abroad.Website:www.nationalbusinessleague.org

About Tuskegee University

Tuskegee University is a private, historically Black land-grant university in Tuskegee, Alabama, whose mission has always been service to people. Stressing the need to educate the whole person, that is, the hand and the heart as well as the mind, Dr. Booker T. Washington founded this institution.www.tuskegee.edu

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