DALLAS — On April 14, 2004, Don McKneely, publisher of MBN; John F. Robinson, president and CEO of the National Minority Business Council; and Carol Daugherty Foster, then editor of MBN, launched the Minority Business Hall of Fame and Museum (MBHF&M), a (501)(c)(3) organization. At that time, no one imagined that nearly two decades later its relevancy would be greater than ever. These MBE advocates whose careers were centered around assisting minority entrepreneurs, thought only of shining a bright light on the largely untold trail blazing efforts of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) business leaders and the individuals and institutions that encouraged them. Concurrently, they wanted their endeavors to educate and inspire the public at large, but particularly, to serve as an inspiration to future entrepreneurs.
With many businesses suffering in the devastation of the pandemic and the seemingly never-ending chaos of social injustice, it is more important than ever that minority entrepreneurs be inspired by the stories of those who blazed the trails before them. It is imperative that they be told not only of the hardships and challenges they overcame, but also of the assistance and encouragement from individuals and institutions that helped make successes and accomplishments possible. While many of these hurdles have been overcome, others remain.
Few stories are as impassioned as the ones told by those who overcame the disappointment and frustration of being denied access to capital from lending institutions, but who found the answer in “crowdfunding,” before crowdfunding became a thing. Meager savings of spouses, family and friends turned them into silent partners that helped a dream become a reality — a business. Many an entrepreneur got their start when a driven corporate supplier diversity professional saw their spark and introduced a mentor-protégé program that jump-started her business, taking them to the next level and helping to revitalize their community. These are the stories worth telling.
Since the first induction ceremony at the Harvard Club in New York in 2005, that honored such luminaries as Harriet Michel, Susan Au Allen, and Ray Jensen, the MBHF&M has inducted 80 individuals and organizations that have left their mark on the American and international business horizons. (See following page.) At the 2010 ceremony there were at least four individuals present who had sat with U.S. presidents to discuss minority businesses.
Induction ceremonies were held annually until 2019 when they were temporarily halted by the pandemic. Venues have been as varied as the Harvard Club in New York, the UCLA Sports Hall of Fame, with stops at the University of Washington, Morgan State University in Baltimore, and Frito Lay headquarters in Chicago and Plano, TX.
Since its inception, founding sponsor PepsiCo has been joined by other corporate giants including Bank of America, IBM, Northrop Grumman, Microsoft, and Toyota who shared a commitment to equity, parity, and telling the facts about minority business development not only to other businesses, but to world.
MBHF&M continues its mission of keeping history alive. “We must keep the stories of these pioneers and trailblazers alive as they provide vital windows to the past,” says founder and current CEO Robinson. “Equally important is the purpose they serve by inspiring, encouraging and motivating entrepreneurs of today and the future.”
For more information about MBHF&M, its past and its future, and your role in helping to tell the stories, you are invited to www.mbhf.org or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.