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A.G. Gaston’s 2020 Vision for Financial Literacy

By Mona Lisa Morris

2020 brings a new year and a new decade with new visions of optimistic outcomes both personally and professionally for many.

The 16th Annual A.G. Gaston Conference takes no exception to these newfound opportunities.  The conference is gearing up to deliver a powerful punch that will further stimulate the hearts and souls of those that honor the life’s work of Black Enterprise’s “Entrepreneur of the Century.”

According to Robert Dickerson, Jr., co-founder of the conference, “the annual event is an opportunity to look at Gaston’s model and emulate it. And this year, we will focus on elevating it.”

The 16th Annual A.G. Gaston Conference brings a dynamic group of speakers to Birmingham that are well-known experts, charged to convey the theme of this year’s conference: One Vision One Cause: Elevating African American Entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship has long been considered one of the greatest tools for building wealth.  Although African Americans are among the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs, the wealth gap is still growing exponentially.  African American entrepreneurs continue to face huge financial barriers with access to capital being the biggest barrier.  Other financial barriers plague the African American community as a whole.

Annually, the A.G. Gaston Conference hosts a free town hall event at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC). This year’s town hall will take on a new and innovative strategy for discussing key issues in the African American community.

The town hall will take place on Tuesday, February 11, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. at the BJCC.  Admission to the town hall meeting is free and welcomes input from individuals of civic and Greek organizations, as well as educators, financial professionals, community leaders, and activists.

The goal of this year’s town hall meeting is to provide a platform that will foster dialogue to elevate everyone’s efforts in improving the financial well-being of African Americans, particularly African American entrepreneurs.

A secondary goal for the town hall meeting involves collaborations. Promoting collaboration among leaders and organizations also helps build a stronger foundation for changing policies that financial literacy alone can’t solve. For example, gender pay inequality, racial wealth gap, and predatory lending practices have a devastating impact on the stability of African American finance.

Rather than simply leading a discussion on financial literacy with a small panel of experts, the town hall meeting will use an all-hands-on-deck approach to addressing financial barriers of African Americans while engaging an ecosystem of leaders that currently serve the community with financial literacy initiatives.

Everyone is encouraged to openly and candidly share goals and ideas to respond to the financial challenges of African Americans. Emphasis on ensuring a strengthened support system for entrepreneurs will guide the discussions.

Policy changes on a legislative level are required to help elevate African Americans from the aforementioned systemic aggressions. Unifying efforts among activists, community leaders, civic organizations, and Greek organizations can strengthen the voices and help facilitate positive change that financial literacy cannot accomplish alone.

Visit Eventbrite to register for the town hall event. Also, visit https://aggastonconference.biz/2020-conference/ to learn more about the entire agenda for the conference.  We strongly encourage you to be a part of the 16th Annual A.G. Gaston Conference.

Mona Lisa Morris is Director of Financial Literacy at Birmingham Business Resource Center.