CEO James “Jay” Bailey, from the Operation Hope subsidiary in Atlanta, spoke before a roomful of local business and community leaders last week at the Gadsden Arts Center.
Operation HOPE was founded by John Hope Bryant in 1992, following the Rodney King incident.
HOPE has served more than two million individuals. HOPE has directed more than $1.5 billion in private capital to America's low-wealth communities and maintains a growing army of 20,000 HOPE Corps volunteers.
Operation HOPE also operates the HOPE Financial Dignity Center in Atlanta at Ebenezer Church, located on the campus of the King Center and as the anchor tenant of the Martin Luther King, Sr. Community Resource Complex.
Baily said Martin Luther King, Sr., or "Daddy King" as he was called, co-pastored Ebenezer Church with his son Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement, and served on the board of a bank for 40 years, a little known fact.
Daddy King, Bailey explained, was focused on making free enterprise work for all, as his son was focused in the last years of his life on poverty eradication and economic justice.
HOPE founder John Bryant, Bailey said, began with a modest but life-changing $40 investment by his mother in his very first business idea at the age of 10 in Compton, California.
This year Bryant was named by President Barack Obama to serve on his new U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans.
Bryant serves on advisory boards for the NYSE Euronext Financial Literacy Advisory Committee, the Gallup Government Leadership Academy, the Kaplan University Business School, and the Desmond Tutu Center.
He is also a regular contributor for the Huffington Post and Linkedin Influencers.
Bryant served President George W. Bush as Vice-Chairman of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy and Chairman of that Council Committee on the Underserved.
Operation HOPE’s work inspired then-President Bush to sign an Executive Order establishing financial literacy as federal policy for the first time in U.S. history.
Bryant has received more than 500 awards and citations for his work to empower low-wealth communities including the Use Your Life Award by Oprah Winfrey and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Legacy Award, and named a “Community Hero” by People Magazine on the 10th anniversary of the worst urban civil unrest in U.S. history.
Connecting civil rights with a 21st century vision for Silver Rights, Operation HOPE built its flagship HOPE Inside at Ebenezer Church.
Bryant has written a book, “How the Poor Can Save Capitalism.” The book discusses the means to solve poverty in the country, which Bryant says is more taboo than discussing race.
Bailey spoke of the Silver Right’s Movement that Hope expounds.
He said children need to be taught how to be entrepreneurs.
One of the problems with entrepreneurship for minorities, he stated, was the lack of role models in society.
“It is now about changing the mindset of young people. It is about all folks, not about color. We didn’t integrate the dollar,” said Bailey.
Raise credit scores, start some small business owners to make Gadsden County a better place, he said.
About poverty, he said it was a cycle and if it is not broken, it will persist.
Bailey said his organization is about crushing the poverty-stricken mentality so that people will hope and dream again.
“I am here to start the conversation,” Baily added, saying that the reason he was in Gadsden County was because Judge Kathy Garner was passionate about him presenting the HOPE opportunity to this community.
Bailey said he would be back for more conversation in the community and will be looking for partnerships to help young people learn about entrepreneurship.
If you would like more information about John Bryant and the HOPE foundation check out their website at www.operationhope.org.
No date was set for his return but it will be announced at a later date.