Martin Luther King III will lead the nation's new crop of civil rights activists into Baltimore today to participate in the city's first African-American Economic Summit.
The two-day free event at New Psalmist Baptist Church hopes to lure young black entrepreneurs into the city to create new business and jobs.
Baltimore City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III organized the conference as the next step in the African-American civil rights movement. Bell hopes new black-owned businesses can begin to replace companies and jobs that have fled Baltimore in the past 30 years.
"We're basically saying that we have to carry the mantle from the past and move into a new direction: economics," Bell said.
King, recently elected to head the Southern Christian Leadership Conference once led by his slain father, will be joined by Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., a Democrat from Illinois, and Michael Brown, son of the late U.S. Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown.
The conference will include several workshops and discussions on how to create new businesses before ending at 6 p.m. tomorrow with a town meeting at New Shiloh Baptist Church at Monroe Street and Clifton Avenue.
The most recent black business survey conducted by the U.S. Census in 1992 showed that African-Americans in Baltimore owned 7,500 businesses with sales of $225 million. But Bell and other black business leaders believe more African-American business and jobs can be generated if Baltimore lays down the welcome mat for black entrepreneurs.
"There is no reason that Baltimore should not become the hotbed of minority business ownership in this country," said Larry J. Smith, president and chief executive officer of Baltimore's Council for Economic and Business Opportunity.
The summit at New Psalmist will take place at 4501 Frederick Road from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow.
Pub Date: 2/26/98