As part of Yahoo’s special “Juneteenth: Soul of America”, Yahoo News Marquise Francis spoke with rapper, businessman and activist Michael Render, better known by his stage name Killer Mike. The conversation centered on the history and importance of Juneteenth, support for black applicants and businesses, and the importance of knowing its roots.
“I’m proud to be one of the people who was brought here, wrongly, but found a way,” said Render, from Atlanta. He says he wants to broaden the narrative around the history of African slaves. For example, some former slaves were able to buy their freedom.
“There were people who were enslaved who redeemed themselves from slavery. There were people who redeemed their families from slavery. This told me that they had a rudimentary understanding of economics, they understood that [their] the work is worth something, and not everyone was a member of the masterclass, ”he said.
“So I’d like to start rewriting this story, that these people weren’t just slaves who were beasts, they were smart. They understood their worth, they negotiated their worth, and they backed down every step of the way. “
Render, who is co-founder of Greenwood, a black-owned financial institution that works specifically with black and Latino people and businesses, says it’s important to maintain wealth in black and Latino communities.
“Whether it’s the Freedman’s Bank 150 years ago or whether it’s the Citizens Trust Bank that’s been around for 100 years now, whether it’s black credit unions, black people need to control their dollar. We do not have control of our dollar in the capitalist system, which means that very often we do not have control of the resources around us, ”he added.
Render then discussed how the Asian community has raised funds to support political campaigns that benefit their community, such as the Asian Hate Crimes Bill. Render believes that members of the black community need to be more politically engaged to see similar results.
“So what I would encourage us to do is on a very local level, let’s get together in our living rooms and kitchens, talk about the candidates we can support. Let’s talk about the candidates who will deliver something. Let’s talk about the candidates who are going to make the businesses of the city and the businesses of the municipality go to the contractors we would like to see them go with. I think the vote is important, but I think the vote associated with economic importance should be our priority right now. We shouldn’t just vote to bring people into the office who we think will be nice to us, we should vote to bring people … into the office who will do a bit like Maynard Jackson and make sure the city make contracts go to people who look like you so you can employ people who look like you.
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.