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data on African American consumers
Black Buying Power:
$679 Billion (2004)
Black U.S. Population:
Top Five Black Cities
- New York
Top Five Black Metros:
- New York-New Jersey
- Los Angeles
Top Five Expenditures:
- Housing 110.2 bil.
- Food 53.8 bil.
- Cars/Trucks 28.7 bil.
- Clothing 22.0 bil.
- Health Care 17.9 bil.
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NAACP considers lifting its economic boycott of South Carolina
By Roddie A. Burris
2006) For Kitty Green, the NAACP's call for an economic boycott of the
state seven years ago was a "slap in the face."
While the teacher-turned-entrepreneur supports the civil rights
organization's effort to remove the Confederate flag from the State House
grounds, the sanctions hit her business hard.
Now some members of the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People are questioning whether it's good policy to continue the
boycott. In 2000, the flag was moved from atop the State House dome to a
monument in front of the capitol, and there's no plan to move it again.
NAACP president and chief executive officer Bruce S. Gordon (above) met
behind closed doors recently with black legislators and rank-and-file
members behind closed doors.
Members say Gordon, who has led the NAACP since June 2005, solicited their
thoughts about the sanctions. Gordon also told them they would hear back
from him after he and his staff review the boycott - and the issue behind
it: the Confederate flag.
No lawmaker has given any indication the Legislature has new interest in
the issue, and only the Legislature has the power to address it.
The boycott has been in effect since July 1999, when the state NAACP
called for it as a protest of to the flags flag atop the State House and
inside the House and Senate chambers. The boycott called on groups and
individuals to avoid traveling to the state for business or pleasure and
discouraged residents from visiting
South Carolina beaches or patronizing restaurants and motels.
The compromise that resulted in moving the flag to the Confederate
Soldier's Monument did not satisfy the NAACP, which has continued the
NAACP members and legislators who met with Gordon have been tight-lipped
about the discussions.
"It was an excellent meeting," said state Rep. David Mack, D-Charleston,
who is chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. "We don't want to get
into any of the details," he said, adding there could be strategic
adjustments made to the policy.
That comes late though for business owners like Green, caught in the
crossfire of the boycott.
Green said it took years of building and grooming her business, Kitty
Green Gullah-N-Geechie Mahn Tours, then more years of marketing it to
tourists, to finally reach the brink of success before the boycott.
"We had come to such a good place with the state," Green recalled,
referring to the Lowcountry's rich cultural heritage and the working
relationship she had nurtured with the state tourism department.
When her business opened in 1992, Green's tours of plantations, old praise
houses and a number of structures built by slaves were competing for
elusive tourist dollars with a surging interest in golf. Green said by
1999 her business finally had received much-needed support from those who
Under the boycott, major Lowcountry cultural events were spiked. The Penn
Center's Heritage Days Festival was canceled two years in a row, and
Beaufort's Memorial Day Gullah Festival was canceled one year.
Since African-Americans were only getting only a small piece of the
tourism pie anyway, Green said, the boycott hurt them even more.
"I wish they had looked at the impact on businesses like mine" before
calling the boycott, she said, adding her revenues are just now returning
to pre-boycott levels.
Despite the ongoing sanctions, the direct impact of travelers on South
Carolina's economy has grown to $10.9 billion last year from $7.5 billion
in 2000 to $10.9 billion last year, according to the Parks, Recreation and
The return of tourist dollars to the state has left some wondering whether
the NAACP's call to action is serving any purpose. Black business owners
are torn over loyalty, pride and the need to survive.
"I don't think a lot of people are paying attention to it," said James
Williams, a minister, undertaker and executive board member of the NAACP's
Sumter branch. "They are not concerned about [the Confederate
Williams, who thinks the boycott should end, says the overall economic
effect on South
Carolina has been "minimal." The greatest impact, he said, has been
the emotional one, in which many
South Carolinians want to
honor the NAACP's position on the issue but find the boycott to be
"Any objective person would have to agree that once the Confederate flag
came off the (State House) dome, many people saw that as the end of the
road," said Bruce Ransom, a Clemson University political scientist. "They
said, `Let's put this thing to bed,' thinking that the NAACP had gotten
what they asked for."
Ransom said if the organization is reassessing the boycott and the
Confederate flag issue, it doesn't mean the group has lost or nor that it
is backing down.
"The NAACP has had a long history of striving to achieve something even
when it looks as though it is not achievable," he said.
Ransom said it is obvious public support for the boycott has waned over
the years, among whites and blacks, but that doesn't mean either group
approves of the flag's position at the State House.
Instead, it may mean the public wants to attack the issue differently.
"They are a pressure group," Ransom said of the NAACP. "Their job is to
challenge those who sit in the Legislature, and sometimes, they are the
lone voice. But that's their role. It is not to be in lockstep with
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'Buying Power' report shows black consumers spending more on home life
As the American economy continues to move sluggishly,
African-American households are curtailing their spending in many
categories, including food, clothing and basic household items, while
investing more in home repair, home entertainment and consumer
electronics. Although they are trimming back, black consumers are still
spending more than their white counterparts on most of these products.
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