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Date: Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 2 pm EST

The Black Belt, notes a 2017 Associated Press story, was named both for the color of its fertile soil and the high percentage of black residents. The region is not only sacred ground for the civil rights movement, but today is home to a growing number of innovations in community wealth building and homegrown economic development.

To tell this story, we begin with an interview of Dr. Shirley Sherrod, a cofounder of New Communities near Albany, Georgia, home to the nation’s first community land trust, which turned 50 this past fall. In the interview, Sherrod talks about the history of New Communities and the lessons it provides for activists in the Black Belt today.

We then turn to a distinguished panel of three individuals, who share their insights:

  • Bill Bynum is founder and CEO of Hope. Bynum leads a leading Southern community lender based in Jackson, Mississippi, that to date has lent out $2.5 billion.
  • Cornelius Blanding is executive director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives-Land Assistance Fund, a network of cooperatives in the Black Belt founded in 1967. Blanding won the James Beard Foundation’s leadership award last year.
  • Leonette Henderson is Director of Development and Partnerships at Higher Purpose Company, a nonprofit that seeks to build community wealth through lending and technical assistance support to start-up black entrepreneurs in rural Mississippi. 

This webinar will explore:

  • How community development financial institutions are supporting community-based development in the Black Belt and Mississippi Delta.
  • The role of peer networks in supporting Black-led entrepreneurship.
  • The struggle to maintain Black control of land in the South. 
  • The links between civil rights organizing and community economic development in the South.
  • The vital importance of long-term vision in economic system change work.