ATLANTA—Black excellence was on full display at the 2023 All Black National Convention, hosted by Dr. Boyce Watkins, an author and businessman, and The Black Business School. The convention took place at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Atlanta on Oct. 20-22.
“We need to have spaces where we can come together and do what needs to be done and connect with the people we need to be connected to and connect to the energy that is going to allow us to accelerate and move things forward,” Dr. Watkins said to The Final Call.
The convention covered topics in the categories of wealth and education, family and relationships and health. Dr. Watkins explained how strengthening those key areas would lead to a better quality of life for Black people. “I believe that we need spaces that are not just safe, but sacred. I also believe that as Black people, we need to educate our own children, create our own jobs, support Black-owned businesses,” he said.
He said he respects the Nation of Islam for the work done in business and education and propped up the Nation’s independent school system, Muhammad University of Islam, founded by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Eternal Leader of the Nation of Islam.
Dr. Watkins recalled sitting with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, National Representative of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, years ago for two hours, as the two talked about wealth, education, family and community as the building blocks to develop the Black community.
“Why is that? Wealth matters because you can’t be free in America if you don’t have your wealth intact. Education matters, and not just making sure you get enough education, getting the right education,” Dr. Watkins said. “And then family, the family is the backbone of everything. You can’t build a strong community without strong families, because that’s all a community is, right?”
He laid out a 50-year plan based on those four key areas. Dr. Watkins told The Final Call and repeated throughout the convention that the goal of the convention is for people to transform; to get rid of the old person and replace them with someone better.
The All Black National Convention started in Atlanta eight years ago. The 2023 convention was the first time it returned to Atlanta since its conception. During the first day’s opening remarks, Dr. Watkins shared the story of how the convention came into existence. He woke up one Sunday while in Atlanta, and something in his mind said, “You should have a convention called the All Black National Convention.” He moved out on the thought, planned the convention in three weeks and held it at the Shrine of the Black Madonna.
The convention is not funded by major corporations or political parties, as Dr. Watkins acknowledged that “all money ain’t good money.”
“We do not allow major corporations to sponsor any of this, because we’re not going to have Black liberation brought to you by McDonald’s. I don’t need that money from Walmart to sponsor the ideas that we’re trying to pursue,” he said during the opening program.
He also honored his grandmother, Felicia, who was the first person to teach him about money and economics. The panther logo of the All Black Business School is named after her.
Wealth and education
The majority of the sessions at the All Black National Convention focused on wealth and education. Individuals spoke on “mastering your money mindset,” “using your credit as leverage to build wealth,” “traveling to Africa and beyond as a Black American,” “the future of Black business” and “securing funding in the $850 billion marketplace.”
Breakout sessions included “how to build wealth through government contracting,” “harnessing the power of Black Academic, nonprofit and business networks,” “how to turn your trademark into a money-making machine,” “the economic revolution starts with building institutions,” “how I built a school,” “are Black people ready for artificial intelligence” and “creating and maintaining a family trust.” Panel discussions took place on the topics of reparations and generational wealth.
Jullien Gordon, a real estate educator and developer, advised attendees to reprogram their minds concerning what they have been taught about money and wealth. He defined “money” as an acronym meaning, “My Own Natural Energy Yield.” He dispelled several myths concerning money including: money being the root of all evil; the obsession that “I need to make more money,” or making millions is about the idea and more.
Instead, he said, the love of money is the root of all evil. “Instead of looking for just your passion, what I want you to do, I want you to look at a problem that you are passionate about solving,” he said. “Look for a problem you are passionate about solving, develop the skill set to solve that problem and I guarantee that the money will follow.”
In the session on using credit to build wealth, Constance Carter, a wealth activist and real estate owner based in California, outlined five steps to take to create success, based on biblical principles: one, have a vision; two, write down the vision and make it plain; three, speak the vision; four, work; five, receive.
“That vision that came to you that God gave you, write it down. Start speaking it. Start working it and you will receive it,” she said.
In 2018, world traveler and author Jay Cameron decided to no longer be held back by invisible barriers created by fear. He decided to travel to Ghana. Since then, he has taken more than 600 Black people on trips to Africa, through his company. He listed the benefits of traveling to Africa as a Black American: the love and respect shared between people on the continent and Black people from America, the opportunities that exist, and the peace experienced.
Dr. Ken Harris, president and CEO of the National Business League, outlined the future of Black business. He stated that Black people need to become the number one employers of Black people and that Black people need to be entrepreneurship-minded. He also shared the importance of Black racial equity as a means to economic progress, supporting Black businesses as a first option, digitizing to survive and building a Black economic ecosystem.
“Just call it straight what it is, I’m Black, period. Embrace it. Be unapologetically Black about it, and let’s focus on what? A Black economic and Black business agenda,” he said.
Asia Kuykendall, based in Atlanta, is a financial wealth analyst by day and an explorer of the quantum wealth universe by night. She shared information about getting out of the comfort zone.
“A lot of people, especially us … we’ve been groomed into a culture that’s full of trauma, that’s cultivating what our mindset is. And that’s really engulfed us in thinking that it’s only one way; there’s no other way outside of what you see around you. So being around like-minded people but who have expanded beyond what you know, it’s really encouraging,” she told The Final Call.
Wendy Julien, a personal trainer helping people overcome their traumas through physical health and wellness, from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is always finding information and seeking something new.
“It’s like you’re looking for that missing puzzle piece, and you want to complete that puzzle in order for you to develop and grow. And that’s usually why I seek out different, unique programs,” she said to The Final Call.
Family and relationships
A third of the sessions at the All Black National Convention focused on family and relationships. Those included a talk on “The Black Family Master Plan,” panels on masculinity, femininity and relationships, and breakout sessions on creating opportunities for children, parenting, overcoming trials, empowering families for financial success, becoming a better self after tragedy and the power of mentoring.
The “Black Family Master Plan,” created by Lawrence Watkins, president and chief operating officer of The Black Business School and Boyce Watkins’ brother, centered around four key concepts: earn, increasing income and income sources; sustain, making day-to-day life pleasurable and fulfilling; protect, limiting downside risks and connect, creating memories and experiences.
The audience shouted out things breaking up the Black family, including communication, unrealistic expectations, trust issues, lack of focus, lack of spirituality, lack of commitment and politics. Lawrence Watkins referenced news articles from as early as the 1970s to point out how the problems aren’t new.
“We’ve been having this exact same conversation for many generations, and it’s up to us to break that cycle moving forward,” he said.
Panelists on the topic of “Modern Day Masculinity” were asked about their definition of Black male masculinity, the role Black male masculinity plays as it relates to the Black family, how to improve male-female relationships and what can be done to encourage men to seek help and support for mental health challenges.
The all-Black-men panel spoke on the importance of Black children seeing healthy and functional male-female relationships, of holding one another accountable by identifying and calling out toxic behaviors of masculinity and of seeking therapy, talking about therapy openly and introducing therapy to Black boys, to help destigmatize it.
An all-Black-women panel tackled balancing feminine energy at home while being a powerful person, the requirements for submission, the 50/50 debate and what Black love would look like if slavery never existed. They defined that if slavery never existed, Black love would operate in abundance and would look like empathy, healing and transformation.
Renita Parks drove to Atlanta from Memphis, Tennessee, to be at the convention. She enjoyed the session on Black male masculinity. “It was so good for us to start today out with acknowledging the Black man and the state of the Black man and just what society has said about us versus how we define ourselves. So to hear Black men define Black male masculinity from a healthy and positive standpoint, that was pivotal,” she said to The Final Call.
The breakout session on the synergy between Black education, Black nonprofits and Black businesses also resonated with her. “The biggest takeaway was being human; being a positive Black person with good intentions,” she said. “Have clear intentions, and then the partnerships will form naturally.”
Ms. Parks is always on the go for her job, but now she’s ready to “make it work” for herself and her community.
“The big benefit was seeing these Black millionaires, these Black important people in real life are humble people, are kind people, and they are willing to work with you to help you get to where you need to be,” she said. “That really was a benefit for me, and it lets me know that they’re just like me, and yes, I can do what they’ve done.”
Conversation to action
Additional sessions related to health included pandemic preparedness, “how we raised five doctors,” strategies to reduce stress and protect mental health and shifting from crisis care to holistic health.
The convention included moments to socialize and network. Rapper and influencer Akilah Nehanda performed at the convention’s opening reception on Oct. 20. The next day’s events ended with a gala. The sibling band Infinity Song performed as participants set up a dance circle. At the gala, a video promotional was shown for an upcoming Black Business Hall of Fame Museum and Metaverse, founded by Dr. George Fraser. The museum will be established in the Atlanta university area.
The final day of the convention ended with several club meetings—a book club with Dr. Watkins, a forex and NFT club and a stock options and investment club—and a game night.
Throughout the convention, Dr. Watkins encouraged participants to pick two or three things they want to improve on by next year and to actively work on those things. “We’re not doing equality, we’re doing excellence. And the thing about Black excellence is Black excellence ain’t got time to be worried about silly stuff like White supremacy,” Dr. Watkins said, during day two’s closing remarks.
The 2024 All Black National Convention will be held in Chicago.
“The All Black National Convention is one of the most important conventions in our culture because it is straight, no chaser. It is called what? The All Black National Convention,” Dr. George Fraser, founder and CuiiiiiiicDr. Fraser spoke on the importance of providing the instruments, vessels and tools necessary to coach, mentor and train the generations to come through “the power of the human connection and effective networking” and “starting, building and growing businesses and scaling those businesses.”
“The mantra for my generation was to get a good education and get a good job, preferably a government job. To change that mantra, to get a good education and create a job; create a job for yourself, to create a job for your children, and if God gives you the power and the glory, to create work and jobs for our people,” he said. “We must move beyond the conversation of that, or the intellectual presentation of that, to action.”