African Americans are earning and learning more than ever, according to information released by the US Census Bureau as part of its commemoration of Black History Month.
The Census Bureau reports the average median income of African American households was $30,439 in 2000. While not equal to the national average, it was an all-time high for African Americans.
In addition, a record 79 percent of blacks age 25 held a high school diploma. That number jumped to 86 percent for ages 25 to 29.
On the tech side, the bureau reports that 81 percent of African American school children had access to a computer either at home or in school.
The creator of Black History Month, black historian Carter Woodson, would be proud of the progress but probably also disappointed that more has not been accomplished.
Certainly, he achieved much. Born to former slaves, he overcame a poor childhood to become a scholar. He created Black History Month in the 1920s because he felt the universities he attended were ignoring African-American heritage.
Today Black History Month is celebrated at schools, in the media, and by government agencies.
In celebration of Black History Month, California Job Journal recognizes the following African Americans who are outstanding leaders in their fields in Northern California.
Edward A. Phillips
Owner of Sacramento-based engineering firm, Phillips Enterprises, Inc.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Tuskegee University
First Job: "Actually, my first job was working for my father as a teenager running his 1400-acre cotton, hogs, corn and soybean farm in Alabama, east of Montgomery. My first job after graduating from college was a design engineer with PG&E."
Greatest Business-related Accomplishment: "I have no one great accomplishment. I relate the 'journey' to where I am now as my greatest accomplishment."
Latest Book Read: The Prize by Daniel Yergin
Work Ethic: "Never ask someone to do something that you would never do yourself."
Business advice: "Before you start any type of business, develop a business plan. I have had lots of ideas presented to me but the ones who take the time to do a business plan most often show the commitment to entrepreneurship."
Future Plans: "Learn how to say 'No' and spend more time with family and friends."
Executive director and founder of Center for Community Health and Well-Being in Sacramento.
Education: Doctor of Divinity, Metaphorum Ministries; Master of Public Health, UCLA; Bachelor of Science, UCLA.
First Job: Nurses aide in a nursing home.
Greatest Business-related Accomplishment: "Establishing a business where women can earn money providing critical health and human services to our community."
Latest Book Read: My One Good Nerve by Ruby Dee
Work Ethic: "I am fortunate to do work that comes from my heart and although it has been difficult, I stay fully engaged because I, too, believe that 'anything we love can be saved'."
Business Advice: "Be the person with whom you would want to do business."
Future Plans: "I will be based in Cuba for a year doing research to complete my book and assisting with the Congressional Black Caucus International Medical School Project."
Alice A. Huffman
President of the California State National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Sacramento office).
Education: Bachelor of Arts in social/cultural anthropology, UC Berkeley; graduate work at University of Pennsylvania, UC Davis and doctoral candidate in public administration from the University of Southern California.
First Job: "First professional position was at Peralta Colleges in Oakland as coordinator of the Inner City Project."
Greatest Business-related Accomplishment: "As the deputy of State Parks: The development of the Railroad Museum, Candlestick Park and Col Allensworth State Historical Park. As political director of the California Teachers Association, I provided the leadership and development that led to the passage of Proposition 98, school guaranteed funding initiative, and the defeat of the school voucher. My public affairs company was successful in getting a very significant new drug available to low-income residents in California."
Latest Book Read: Danielle Steel's Journey
Work Ethic: "Those who work rule the world. I work day and night and do any job in the company and strive for excellence."
Business advice: "Go into a business that you like and that taps your skills."
Future plans: "To continue to accept clients who want to improve the quality of life for all. As the president of the California State NAACP, the goal is to professionalize it so that it can be the premier deliverer of service to California. I also plan to serve on the national board of the NAACP."
C. Diane Howell
Publisher of Black Business Listings and Producer of Black Expo 2002, Oakland.
Education: Undergraduate studies at Barnard College, Columbia University, New York City, NY; Bachelor's degree in psychology and a doctorate in psychology from UC Berkeley
First Job: "As a child I first worked in a factory part-time and also had baby-sitting jobs. I was a psychological intern at the Westside Community Mental Health Center in San Francisco before and after I received my Ph.D. My next job was as a counseling psychologist at the Counseling Center at UC Berkeley."
Greatest Business-related Accomplishment: 1) Production of Black Expo for the last six years in Oakland. Black Expo is the largest event in the African American community in Northern California and is designed to promote African American small businesses and to connect the African American community with corporate America, the public sector and various other organizations. For the last several years it has grown appreciably and it includes a College Day program, Job Fair, Home Buyers Fair, Health Fair, and usually kicks off with the African American Excellence in Business Awards and Scholarship Gala.
2) Also, the publication of the Black Business Listings, a monthly newspaper designed to promote African American economic empowerment, for over 12 years.
Latest Book Read: You Are Always Your Own Experience by Tom Johnson
Work Ethic: "I work very hard and work long hours when necessary. But I've also learned the importance of rest and revitalization to business success. It is a lot easier to solve problems, be creative and move my business forward when I am living a balanced life."
Business Advice: "Remember that business is not separate from the rest of life. The principles that guide one life should be the same principles that guide one in business."
Future Plans: "To continue doing what I do, but do it better, more profitably and with a team of people who support my vision of the business."
Alfred (Al) W. Williams
Owner of Alfred Williams Consultancy, a public affairs consulting firm in San Francisco.
Education: Bachelor of Science from Florida A&M University
First Job: Counselor, Neighborhood Youth Corps
Greatest Business-related Accomplishment: "My greatest accomplishment is a recurring one. I derive my greatest professional satisfaction from helping to develop mutually beneficial relationships between my clients and the communities they do business in."
Latest Book Read: Warriors of God by James Reston, Jr
Work Ethic: "Do the best you can all the time."
Business Advice: "Balance your business interests with personal, family and community interests."
Future Plans: "Develop a more systematic approach to building strategic relationships between for profit and nonprofit entities."
For more information on Black History Month, visit these websites:
history.About.com - Click on African-American history for an archive of articles.
lcweb.LOC.gov/exhibits/african/intro.html - Site features "The African-American Mosaic," a Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture.
BlackHistory.eb.com - The Encyclopedia Britannica guide to Black History.
BrightMoments.com/blackhistory - Test your knowledge of African-American history.
BlackQuest.com/link.htm - Links to multiple resources on black history.
NAACP.org - Official website of the civil rights organization.
NUL.org - National Urban League website.
Africana.com - Provides African-American news and educational resources.
TheBlackMarket.com - Information, columns and articles on business, finance, self help, spirituality, comments, black history and links to related sites.
new.BlackVoices.com - African-American online community.
AAWC.com - African American Web Connection.
Afroam.org - Online paper provides African American news.
Infoplease.com/spot/bhm1.html - Learn about important people and places in African-American history.
CreativeFolk.com/blackhistory.html - An African-American history and heritage site.
kn.PacBell.com/wired/BHM/AfroAm.html - A site of African-American issues hosted by Pacific Bell.