Here's one business owner's 'Black Agenda' inspiring action

Katy Smith
Marlon Platt, founder of Marlon Anthony Events and co-owner of Our Bar & Lounge, Olde Towne East

In an unprecedented break from the routine avoidance of political issues, major brands across the country have pledged their commitment and their resources to fight racism in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and many other Black people by police.

In Columbus, some 750 organizations including the leaders of the city’s largest private sector companies signed a letter to City Council declaring racism a public health crisis. The group of supporters has grown beyond 3,000 and represents a major departure from the sideline sentiments of the past. With businesses putting themselves out there to advance racial justice and equality—supporting employees attending protests and wearing Black Lives Matter garb—many have asked: Now what are these large corporations going to actually do to create meaningful change?

Columbus CEO asked business leaders.

How have the protests following the killings of George Floyd and others affected you?

Marlon Platt, founder of Marlon Anthony Events and co-owner of Our Bar & Lounge, Olde Towne East: I’m not a big political person. But I understand racism plays a role in the position of Black people in society, and what’s keeping us underserved and downsized. So, since these last events, I submitted myself to doing something about it. So I’ve written a personal “Black Agenda” that I’ve started to share with people, and I’m trying to organize resources in our community.

For the July issue of Columbus CEO, we touched base with a number of business leaders on the topic of race. Here's what they had to say.

1. Build wealth within the African American community—establishing businesses, learning how to manage our money and invest, and also spending money within the Black community.

2. Vote. Selecting political officials, getting involved on a local level, aligning ourselves with candidates who have the interests of people of color at hand—and then also holding them accountable.

3. Buy back the block. Taking ownership in the communities that we once lived in—places like Linden, Mount Vernon—going back to those communities and establishing ourselves, buying up land and building businesses.

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4. Tell our own story. We don’t have any control over media platforms—so really building up Black TV networks, radio stations, podcasts, social media platforms.

5. Each One Teach One. Create a community-based education model based on building relative life skills.

Katy Smith is editor of Columbus CEO