I have begun to write about Blacks in business and thought it would be a good place to begin by going back to Michelle Obama reminder in her recent speech where she said, “Every morning, my two little girls wake up in a house built by African slaves.”
My intended theme was to encourage young Blacks looking for work and thinking they have a need build their own business. I encountered a book about how Blacks in bondage built the White House in 1795 and a number of other Washington monuments during slavery.
I found that ﬁrst ten or twelve Presidents had slaves living in the White House. They included Jefferson who cohabitated with Black slave Sally Hemmings for years, producing a family. Jackson, known for his horse racing, used slaves to tend and raise his horses. They were also the jockeys that rode the horses making him and other white horse enthusiasts rich. Madison, Monroe, Tyler, Polk, and Taylor also had slaves living in the White House.
As a note, slaves were not written about as slaves in the histories of the Presidents of that day. They were written about as servants and employees. This implies that they were on the payroll.
Not! The slaves who built the White House as found in Paul Jennings’ book, “The Invisibles” are Tom, Peter, Ben, Harry and Daniel.
To bring this story home, there exists a memoir written by a former slave named Paul Jennings who wrote a memoir called, “Black Me Built The Capital.” I am wondering have we gotten so far away from our ancestors that we are not ﬁnding work.
We should teach the young how to do something other than rap, dance and sports. Where are the plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and painters? These are all honorable work for Blacks but Blacks are hard to ﬁnd. I was a barber. I worked as a gardener for a while, I worked as a clerk stocking shelves, and I shined shoes for a while.
Good, honest work is a start. Then you can move up to become the supervisor, boss or owner of a chain of businesses or companies. I learned that you do what you got to do, till you can do what you want to do.”
That is my word for the day.