Hopes and dreams are far greater than an idle luxury. In a world such as this, to wish for a better day, envision a brighter future, or aspire to something greater is essential. Without hopes and dreams we whither and soon die. Blackacre is a dream made real. And while embryonic, we off to a good start.
Consistent with the adage that content is king, Blackacre has found its voice in a series of blogs that are timely, well written and thought provoking. In 2014, we will further establish our brand, our social authority with even more noteworthy content.
We have also completed our first two white papers. The first is entitled “The Affordable Care Act and the Black LGBT Community”. The paper examines the ACA and its impact on the black community, specifically the black lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered community.
The second, “Beyond Malcolm, After Trayvon, Where Do We Go From Here?” questions what progress if any, African Americans have made since Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. It further examines what we should do after the tragedy of Trayvon Martin. Finally, the paper offers detailed policy recommendation by which to move a great people forward.
Furthermore, Blackacre will develop and implement specific programs and implementation strategies by which to test and evaluate its policy recommendations, in real time, real life, real world situations. Some of these programs will include:
· The Broken Vessels Public Policy Strategy and Support Group for those who whether by criminal conviction, internet/social media embarrassment, sex or financial scandal, homelessness, mental illness, chemical dependency or other personal/professional shortcoming are burdened with the social stigma of a “Scarlet Letter”.
· The Occupational Guidance and Preparation Program which prepares youth and young adults for the myriad of occupational possibilities and choices of the 21st century including developing appropriate work habits, employment ethics, seeking and maintaining employment, physical/manual skills, specific job competencies and entrepreneurship.
· The Appearance, Attire and the Social Graces Program and Workshop which teaches participants the importance of a polished professional appearance and the rules of social etiquette
· The SMART Money Proposal which equips program participants with knowledge and information concerning the fundamentals of money management, finances, assets, savings and retirement planning.
Even more exciting, Blackacre is pursuing its 501 © (3) status. This development is momentous, with implications that stretch far beyond Blakcacre. A 501 (3) © designation enhances Blackacre’s credibility, expands our base, enhances our financial strength and facilitates membership development.
More importantly, a 501 © (3) designation makes possible one of our ultimate goals, the birth of a new civil rights movement. Traditional civil rights organizations, most notably the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the National Urban League have done an admirable job of advancing the cause of civil rights and social justice. Their continued existence is vital to the continued advancement of American society.
However, times have changed. The quest for equal opportunities has entered a new phase and the focus is no longer limited to African Americans. Nor is the concern solely civil rights.
In order to find solutions to the problems which confront us and to transcend the things which divide us, an infusion of fresh blood, new ideas and novel approaches is required. A new civil rights movement led by an innovative civil rights organization with unique insight, vision and perspective is demanded.
Guiding Blackacre is a dedicated cadre of advisors representing the legal, health, business, educational, non profit, public and private sectors. But while we have made solid progress, we are required to do more, namely building a Blackacre community.
The think tank was not created as a means of advancing one perspective. The last thing we want is a monopoly of thought, an exclusivity of intellect. The very purpose of Blackacre is to broaden the scope of opinions, perspectives and insight by giving voice to the voiceless.
Nor does Blackacre belong to a one man. Its purpose is much greater than a single individual. Blackacre belongs to and is owned by you. It is your forum, your platform and your megaphone by which to engage in public policy debate and analysis.
Consequently, our capital is not money but community engagement, stakeholder involvement, member participation and user contribution. Our stock in trade is not some inventory of products but relationships with contributors who create content, critics who write reviews and provide intellectual competition. We seek spectators who watch videos and read content, followers who monitor our maturation and joiners who update profiles, and persuade others to enlist. We desire a cadre of volunteers, who profile members, generate revenues, research and author position papers, develop policy positions and transfers knowledge.
In conclusion, Blackacre is larger than a blog, more than a website and superior to a single organization. It is a cut above a simple think tank. Blackacre is a movement, a cause in which to believe.
Democratizing public policy and providing strategies that bring us together based on character, conduct and shared values rather than divide us because of race, color, gender, creed, politics and national origin, is a worthy endeavor. Our mission is nothing less than to change the world. We ask that you and others like you join us in this noble cause.
So from all of us at Blackacre, Happy New Year and have a prosperous 2014.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO, Blackacre Policy Forum