📚Black To School: Issue #21
Black Is Wealth💰: From Mansa Musa to Wall Street & Beyond
For anyone who is new to Black To School, we explore the history and contributions of Africans and the African diaspora to global society. Our goal is to learn from these stories, draw inspiration, and make a positive change in our own lives, homes, and communities. If you received a forwarded issue, you can subscribe to Black To School here.
Happy New Year, We’re Back!
Ok, we’re a little late, and it’s not January, but we’re still kicking off the year with that same energy.
It’s February, a month designated to highlighting Black history, but we as a collective believe that Black History is always relevant —365 days a year. Black To School celebrates Black people and Black contributions around the world. The “Why?” that powers our mission is simple. “Our ancestors invented the table that the world now sits at. It’s time to not just claim our seat, but to set the agenda.”
For long-time subscribers, things may look a little different around here, and that’s because of your feedback! We’re on this journey together, and we get it. The days are long, the pressure is high, the fatigue is real, and our previous issues? They were dense — see for yourself. We’re passionate and proud of that work, but understand the time commitment could be a bit much, so we’re excited to announce Black to School 2.0!
In our new revised newsletters, we’re prioritizing one key fact at a time. Writing will be concise and easy to quickly digest, and we’ll be sharing three big links: one for yourself, one to share with family (and younger children), and a resource for how you can get involved in making the world a more equitable place.
So, welcome to Black to School. We’re glad you’re here. Let’s get started.
Black Is Wealth:
Black people have been wealthy throughout history and continue to be today, and there are no limits to what we can achieve. We’re exploring our legacy of wealth and wealth-building. Who were the richest black people in history & in the present day? What great habits did they have that continue to be relevant and effective?
What’s The Story? These Are The Facts.
The Richest Man Was Black!?
One of the greatest examples of Black wealth comes from the King of Mali, Mansa Musa. During the Middle Ages, he expanded his empire and became one of the wealthiest people to ever live (watch this short TED-Ed video on Mansa Musa to get a quick overview)! He’s still considered one of (if not) the wealthiest people ever, with an estimated net worth of over $400 Billion! To put that into perspective, Mansa Musa was more than 2 times wealthier than the richest men alive today, Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, and Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos.
Thriving Black Communities Are Not New.
The wealthiest self-made black community in the United States was called Black Wall Street. It was a thriving community located in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Black Wall Street encompassed 35 city blocks and was home to approximately 10,000 Black residents. This included two millionaires (in today’s dollars), 1,200 homes, over 600 Black businesses, 23 grocery stores, 20 restaurants, 4 hotels, a theater, a hospital, a school system, and churches. Some members of the community even owned private planes!
There Is A Proven Playbook For Black Generational Wealth.
The largest minority-owned wealth management firm, Ariel Investments, was created by John Rogers, the grandson of J.B. Stradford who was one of the founders of Black Wall Street (listen to him talk about his grandfather). As a prominent firm with over $15 Billion in assets under management, Ariel Investments has not only consistently delivered superior returns for clients, but also modeled a Black wealth-building playbook for the corporate community. Ariel’s practice is simple and non-negotiable: diversify people, purchasing, and philanthropy (3Ps). They persuaded 45 portfolio companies “to have their Jackie Robinson moment.”
Black People Will Always Be In The Money Mix.
Operating within this $13.8 billion influencer market is an emerging niche of Black personal finance gurus who are using their skills to encourage long-term wealth-building over excessive spending. There are currently nearly 1,500 Black Certified Financial Planners in the U.S. alone.
What’s New? We Keep Pushing the Envelope.
As important as individual net worth is, the names Musa, Musk, Bezos, Dangote, Sawiris, Oppenheimer, and Rupert would mean nothing without the spending power of their larger communities. From the Mali Empire and the Americas to Europe, Asia, and modern-day Sub-Saharan Africa, the wealth, power, and influence of the Black diaspora is a focus for many as our money crisscrosses the globe. Collectives like African Diaspora Network are reimagining what wealth means for society at large and directing investments to sustain our great financial legacy.
🛠️ The Black To School Toolkit
Still curious? Dig deeper on your own, grow with your family, and learn how you can impact change in your own backyard:
For Family: Teach your kids about the wealthiest man who ever lived, Mansa Musa, and thriving Black communities like Black Wall Street. Or binge-watch this new Netflix series about the first Black Female millionaire, Madame CJ Walker.
About Black To School
Black To School is a collaborative volunteer effort focused on sharing Black history, collecting helpful resources, and creating a safe space for discussion. Learn more about us here and feel free to join our Slack community to keep the conversation going. People of all backgrounds are welcome!
If you’re passionate about this type of work and want to help out, please let us know! The best way to get in touch is by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with “volunteer” as the subject, or by joining our Slack community and sharing that you’d like to be involved.