Lennie Chism

Manufacturing in Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Lennie Chism, entrepreneurial activist, walks it like he talks it. In a day and age full of so-called community leaders who front, Chism rolls up his sleeves and gets busy looking out, determinedly committed to African American self-empowerment through entrepreneurship. In a day and age when it is politically incorrect not to embrace the concepts of integration and assimilation, Chism is unapologetic about being an economic separatist. Not that he has anything against white people. To the contrary, he simply has a great deal of determination to see his own people succeed. I hope to be [an] inspiration for economic parity”, says Chism, “not just social acceptance.” He refuses to accept the disparity characterizing black business in the U.S. And concretely understands that the business world is where black people need to continue forging significant inroads. Chism looks at history’s icons with an eye on what needs to happen in our lifetime. He sagely reflects, “W. E. B. Du Bois spoke of our greatness Malcolm X spoke of our greatness. A. G. Gaston spoke of our greatness. We all owe it to ourselves to try to achieve that. As did the other [groups in] America.” With the global economy teetering on bankrupt, with Wall Street and the White House doing an ineffectual song and dance routine of bailouts and, it’s clear that black Americans must seize the reigns of our own destiny. We can ill afford to go along for whatever rollercoaster ride the stock market has in store. Black America has to take charge of its fate. For Chism, it is not about individuals being able to slip into the mainstream. Chism states “A spoonful of integration is not enough for the rest of us”. Nor is it about social program handouts. James Brown sang, “I don’t want nobody to give me nothin’. Open up the door. I’ll get it, myself.” That may as well be Chism’s mantra. The fact is Chism is making a big noise. One that increasingly is making itself heard on behalf of black communities. Chism states “Get your black on, Let your black out, its ok.”

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  • Education
    • The Ohio State University