Standing Up for What’s Right: Protecting the Legacy of Black Businesses

By Ronda Watson Barber
OhioMBE Publisher

This Black History Month, we’re facing a big issue that goes against what many people have fought for. Recently, the Columbus City Council made a decision that doesn’t sit right with many of us. They said that people who aren’t citizens can now compete for city contracts and get certifications like MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) and WBE (Women’s Business Enterprise). This decision is a big deal because it challenges the hard work and success of Black business advocates.

Black History Month is about celebrating our achievements and making sure we protect the opportunities that our leaders fought for. People like Walter Cates and my dad Frank Watson worked hard to open doors for us in business, fighting against the odds. Black business success was their life work. Their efforts were about making sure Black folks could succeed and be seen in places where we were once left out.

But when some of our own elected leaders, who are Black, and even an honorary white woman on the City Council, vote to let non-citizens have the same chances as us for city contracts, it feels like a step back. It’s as if they’re not listening to what many in our community are saying. They’re ignoring the work of the oldest civil rights group in the country and forgetting about the legacy of our fighters like Cates and Watson. These leaders fought so we could be where we are today, and now it seems like that’s being overlooked for others who haven’t faced the same struggles.

It’s more than just a policy change; it’s about respecting and honoring the battles fought by those who came before us. Black History Month should remind us to keep fighting for what’s right and to protect the gains we’ve made. We should be focusing on helping our community grow stronger, not making it harder for Black businesses to succeed.

The Black elected officials and the honorary white woman on City Council should not be welcomed in Black spaces. They need to be reminded on a regular basis of their betrayal of Black businesses, the local branch of the NAACP, and the advocacy of past business leaders. This betrayal goes against the very essence of what Black History Month stands for and the ongoing struggle for equality and recognition.

As we move forward, let’s remember the hard work of our ancestors and the doors they opened for us. Let’s make sure we don’t let those doors close or open them wider for others without acknowledging who fought to unlock them in the first place. This month, let’s stand together and make our voices heard. We need to protect the legacy and success of Black businesses for ourselves and for future generations.

just my thoughts…rwb