Leave A Future For Your Children!
Over the years we have travelled home to Bakersfield for Easter, but the traditions changed. When the kids were young, we took colored eggs and hid them to watch the little ones find them. Now the kids have grown up and some of them have grown kids. The grown grand kids are painting, dyeing, and hiding eggs for the younger grand – whenever they come. Often times, now, they go elsewhere.
One of the things I noticed there, in my childhood hometown, was that the town has changed, but in so many ways, it is still the same. I see Real Estate offices with company names that indicate they were there when I was a kid. I notice automobile dealers that were there when I grew up there. I’m sure that these businesses have been handed down from generation to generation.
Judging from my observations, I can only imagine that the complexion of the employees has also changed. When we were kids, if you were Black your world was segregated. We could work at the Real Estate offices, but only as janitors, after the day ended and the offices were closed. Now there are Black Real Estate agents. We worked at the auto dealerships, but only as auto detail men, washing and polishing the cars. Now it’s different. Black auto salesmen sell to the customers.
What bothers me is that I didn’t see many signs of second and third generation African American-owned businesses. However, there is a Barber shop and one Real Estate office and also Mortuary owned by the Blacks. In fact, the Rucker’s Mortuary has maintained a family legacy, passing the business down to new generations, much like here, in Pasadena, Woods Valentine Mortuary who recently celebrated 85 plus years and is in their third generation.
There are remnants of my family’s antique business there in Bakersfield which is being handled by my older sister at the house the family bought in the early fifties. We call it “Hopkins House”. As we watch the changing economy in the world, it is important to leave a legacy of pride in family businesses by planning ways to pass the family business down to the next generation.
At the Journal, we are in our 24th year. All of our children have had various jobs here as they grew up, from writing to circulation. Currently, our sons contribute in various ways. Yusef contributes his graphic arts skills to prepare covers. Jamal contributes religious articles from time to time, and Omar has worked extensively in the business and developed our distribution process. Now, our granddaughter works here. The building itself (within Hopkins Village) has its own legacy. It has been home incubators to the enterprises of our son’s various businesses. Jamal’s Barber shop, Omar’s Paralegal and Attorney Service, Joseph/Yusef’s T-shirt silk screening business and his photography business.
In thinking about celebrating the paper’s 25th anniversary next year, hopefully more of a transition will have taken place. Until then, we will keep doing what we do, promoting education and entrepreneurship, and working on keeping our little enterprise going to support the positive aspects in our community. I also like to help the community by occasionally finding a good fight to get into.
What we need is the continuing support of those in the community who believe that our product fills a need for the community. Over the years advertisers have pulled their advertisement, because they didn’t like what I wrote, and we’ve also had some of those same advertisers come back. It’s sometimes like a divorce. Those who get divorced often times leave the other one maturing and coming along nicely without them, only to wish they had stayed and worked out the relationship. As a matter of fact, this was part of the Sunday School lesson this past Sunday.
Also, be willing to share some of the challenges of owning your own business, but the benefits outweigh the challenges. It’s worth it in the end. Be honest and tell your children that there’s hard work, but there’s nothing more rewarding and fulfilling than being the boss.
It is important that as we consider the past and its legacy, we begin to think about what the future holds. I mentioned my family’s antique business. It started as a second hand store, born out of selling used clothes, furniture, and appliances to farm workers who migrated to Bakersfield in the summer to work the fields. Keeping a positive family legacy going is important. You have to create a succession plan and demonstrate to your future generation pride in ownership. Let them know what’s theirs, no one can take away.
What legacy will you leave for your children’s future? The answer is wrapped up in whether there is a plan to build a business, a home, and a history to pass along. How proud it should make you as a parent to know that you gave to your child a positive head start in life, especially one that fulfills a dream and fills a need for the community and is something that will last for generations to come. If you do not have a legacy for your children, begin working on it today!