Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Preaching to Myself-Learning from and living my own lessons

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman May 16th, 2018

I donated the publishing rights and 100% of the proceeds from this book to the Graceview Church of Christ Tabernacle Fund (Anderson, SC). Order directly through me by emailing saying how many you want, or go to the church website:




Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman March 5th, 2018



The Last Dance — September 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman September 25th, 2017

Those of you who are my age will remember the house parties in our parents’ basements with the blue and red lights. Whether boy or girl, although you were reluctant to ask or too shy to accept that slow dance with someone you considered special, when the moment finally came and the two of you embraced each other, that dance was the most you could ask for in your teen aged years. Unfortunately, that dance was usually at the bewitching hour when your parents said everyone had to go home. You finally got the nerve to do it, and then it had to end—you had to let go. That’s what I feel as I work my way through this final Blackonomics article.

Since the age of 24 or so, after I visited the Topographical Center in Chicago during the late 1960’s, I finally found the consciousness I needed to do something in response to what was happening in this nation vis-à-vis Black people. I began to speak out and do whatever I could to ameliorate our problems on a local level.

From 1972 until 2012, I earned my living by working for Black administrators and business owners, on behalf of Black people, in the public and private sectors. My much-anticipated dance began forty-five years ago, and I have embraced my dance partner, the uplift of Black people, ever since.

In 1993, after writing a letter to the Editor of the Cincinnati Herald, I started this particular dance by embracing the opportunity to write on a weekly basis. Now, nearly 25 years later, the houselights have been turned on, drowning out the blue lights, and it’s time to let go of my dance partner. But she was never mine to keep anyway; someone danced with her before me and someone will dance with her after me.

Yes, after authoring some 1500 articles, editorials, and essays, and writing nine books, five of which on economic empowerment, giving hundreds of speeches and teaching numerous classes across this country, there is probably not much more I can say on empowerment. Moreover, as I suggested, the message was never my own—it was just in a different form, relative to my time and experiences.

The economic empowerment message belongs to no one person; it is not new and it certainly is not unique or proprietary to anyone of us who chose to spread that particular “gospel.” It was touted by the likes of Maria Stewart and Frederick Douglass, Mary McLeod Bethune and Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells and Marcus Garvey, Maggie Lena Walker and Malcolm X, Amos Wilson, Carter G. Woodson, Kenneth Bridges, and Maynard Jackson. Contemporaries, along with myself, are now the messengers for economic empowerment. Same message, different griots. No one has all the answers and no one alone can take us where we must go; a critical mass of us must go together, based on collective leverage, cooperation, and strength.

Like those before me, I am leaving a compendium of writings on economic empowerment that will be catalogued and available, via streaming, for study groups and individuals to read and use in building a solid foundation for future generations. Like others before me, the lessons I have learned will be there for developing and executing solution-based strategies. The question is: “Will they be followed, or merely discussed, ad nauseam, by the folks who believe that by talking about our problems they have actually ‘done’ something to solve them?” Based on our errant history since 1964, I pray we will act appropriately by using the knowledge left to us by our progenitors.

Here are a few ways to do that:
Raise our consciousness to a level of “unconscious competency”
Leverage our dollars and our votes against injustice and inequity by withdrawing them
Use our consumer dollars to create conscious Black millionaires
Establish more viable, professional, well-managed businesses, and support them
Establish trusts, equity funds, revolving loan programs, and endowments
Form strategic business alliances and partnerships that can take on larger projects
Scale up our businesses to provide more jobs for Black people
Teach our youth the history of Black business in this country
Teach our young people to think entrepreneurially
Demand reciprocity from politicians and the marketplace, from a position of economic strength
Vote for those who publicly state and commit in writing their support for our interests
Withhold our votes from anyone and any party that will not support our interests
Hold ourselves accountable for our own economic freedom
Organize ourselves around practical economic and political solutions that benefit US
Commit some of our time, talent, and treasure to the uplift of our people

Always remember: “Well done beats well said every time, and if people put you on a pedestal, don’t take up residence there.” Peace and Love to all. What a dance, huh? What a dance!



Resignation — September 2017

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman September 16th, 2017

It is with deep sadness that I resign from the position of Black Activist, emphasis on the “act” part.  Next week’s column will be my final one.  Why?  While I have been running hard to escape the final clutches of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, it has gained on me to the point of my being virtually helpless on a physical level.  My resignation is by no means an indication of giving up; rather it is simply the reality that I face now when it comes to continuing the job I chose to do many years ago:  Servant Leader to Black people. 

The compensation has not been great, (No 401-K for me or my family to rely on) but I accepted that.  The status has not been high, but I have never sought fame.  The work required long hours and brought with it stress, disappointments, fits and starts, time away from my wife and daughter, and the constant often quixotic task of going against the status quo, which made some folks very angry.

However, my reward has come in the form of meeting and knowing so many conscious and conscientious people from Seattle to Miami, from San Diego to Boston, and abroad.  My reward came in the strength and rejuvenation I felt when I got my “booster shot” of consciousness and commitment from those same people, too numerous to name. 

During this sojourn, my reward has been seeing the young folks I taught in high schools and colleges having moved on to higher achievements.  I remember during a Marcus Garvey celebration in Chicago someone saying, “The children are not ‘our’ future; we are their future.” 

That’s so true, and I am buoyed by the fact that many of our seasoned folks are working to guide our youth and helping build a strong foundation for them so they, in turn, can be the future for those that follow. 

Often frustrated by those among us who only talk about what “we need” and/or offer solutions but never lead the way to execute those solutions, I have come to see the futility in much of the leadership (I call it “Pleadership”) we choose to follow.  Rhetoric, elocution, and extensive vocabulary do not necessarily reflect true leadership; organized direct action that is intentional, sacrificial, and sustained, are what Black folks need to empower ourselves. 

Carter G. Woodson, under the heading, Service Rather Than Leadership, wrote, “Under leadership we have come into the ghetto; by service within the ranks we may work our way out of it…under leadership we have been constrained to do the biddings of others…under leadership we have become poverty-stricken…under leadership we have been made to despise our own possibilities and to develop into parasites.” I say, “Be careful who you choose as leaders; you may have to follow them one day.”

Now I would never suggest you do anything that I have not been willing to do or have not already done, so I will offer some personal retirement reflections on some of my actions relative to the many words I have written and spoken over the years.

When I said we needed a Black Chamber of Commerce in Cincinnati, I went to work to start one in 1996. When I said our children were not being educated on financial literacy and entrepreneurship, I started an entrepreneurship high school. When I complained that we had no collective equity fund, I worked with others to start one at a Black Credit Union.  When I saw the need for a nationwide charitable group to fund our schools, museums, and other causes, I started the Blackonomics Million Dollar Club, and collectively we funded 20 Black organizations. And when I saw the “need” for a local self-help fund for our people I started one with my own initial contribution.

Black folks need an organized, dedicated, critical mass of the conscientiously conscious to achieve economic empowerment and the power (not influence) to direct public policy toward benefiting us for a change.  Having been on that road for many years, my final stop is THE One Million (  I will devote my remaining energy to the framework and mission of that movement.   

Finally, DO SOMETHING to change the “we need” to “we did.”  We have answered the “What?” question—many times over. Some have answered it by asking another question, “So What?” My question is, “Now What?” Stop the nonsense, Black folks; as Red said in Shawshank Redemption, we can “get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.” As Moses told his people, “Choose life!”

After 25 years of writing weekly articles on economic empowerment, five books on that subject, countless speeches and classroom hours, I am now prepared to resign by offering these simple instructions:  If you see the “need,” then be willing to do the work; and don’t try to be a legend, build a legacy instead.