Myiti Sengstacke – Rice, Founder and Publisher

I came across a quote the other day, “Give a man a degree and he eats for his lifetime, give a man business and his family eats for generations.” -anonymous. This resonated with me for so many reasons because Bronzeville Life nor the Robert Sengstacke Abbott Foundation (formerly Chicago Defender Charities, Inc.) would not exist if it were not for Mr. Abbott’s vision in 1905, founder of the Chicago Defender Newspaper and the 90 plus-year-old Bud Billiken Parade.

I kept thinking about that quote as I went to the store and bought groceries for my family. So even at the very elementary level of “eat for generations” I thought how amazing is it that I can eat because someone had a vision literally 114 years and 5 generations ago. Then I began to think about the countless other people who even today are impacted by one person’s vision, countless other visionaries whose families can go to the grocery store and feed their family, again taking it to the very literal sense of the word “your family can eat for generations.”

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in a good education, I received my Masters from Northeastern Illinois University, Center for Inner City Studies and I am currently finishing my Doctoral studies in Social Entrepreneurship and Non-Profit Leadership. In one of the very first courses I took at the Center for Inner City Studies, my professor posed the question, “who defined the ‘inner city?’ The very people who own a business, the power brokers? Who said that the norm was to work from 9 to 5 and retire at 65 years old?”

Since the reconstruction era, sharecropping and Jim Crow oppression, work has evolved to what some call the 40/40/40 plan, work (at least) 40 hours a week for 40 years for 40% of what was never enough for the first 40 years, to begin with. Both education and job are immensely valuable and rewarding. I am encouraging people to look at their job and education through a different lens, as a means to ownership and/or opportunity to build wealth for the next generation.

Believe it or not, I enjoy teaching but it doesn’t always afford me the lifestyle that I desire or allow me to pass something tangible down to the next generation. I am so grateful for my professors who understood that and would talk to us about doing more to build a better future and enjoy the fruits of your labor while you can. In undergrad at Hampton University, my accounting professor would tell us that he and his wife could not afford to only live off the salary he was making. He walked us through how he would buy a real estate property, move into it, fix it up, sell it and move to the next.

Bronzeville Life exists to continue to honor our business owners, educators, and hardworking community. When you look at the foundation of Bronzeville, it was built on the backs of entrepreneurs like Edward Jones, Jones Brothers policy Kings, Jessie Binga of Binga Bank and of course Robert Abbott and countless others who chartered a path for us. We are now the keepers of the future our ancestors envisioned.