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‘Influencers, Experiences and Relationships…..Matter”

John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM | 4/4/2016, 2:37 p.m.
For some time now I have been providing my perspective on a monthly basis about the challenges and the triumphs ...
John E. Harmon, Sr

For some time now I have been providing my perspective on a monthly basis about the challenges and the triumphs of the 1.1 million African American residents and the 66,000 black-owned businesses in New Jersey. In my columns, I have, utilized statistics, historical personalities, events and public policy initiatives as a motivating factor to make a point or to underscore the relevance of African Americans in New Jersey or across this nation. I have chosen this perspective in my writings because from my vantage point as the President/ CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ), I am privileged to have access to information, potential opportunities and resources that I believe could have a favorable impact on the economic standing of African Americans throughout New Jersey. Therefore, I seek to enlighten and provoke my constituents to take a closer look at their standing, versus their mainstream counterparts, and then determine the appropriate course of action to attain the desired outcome.

I realize that for some, the requisite steps to get back on course or to a more favorable trajectory may necessitate some drastic measures, however, if it will enable you to achieve your desired outcome, I recommend that you pursue that course of action immediately. Why, because time waits for no one and the only thing that comes to a sleeper are dreams. I am here to tell you that, even in today’s economy where there is continued downsizing from major corporations throughout the United States, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Haliburton Co., and Procter & Gamble, there is still enormous wealth being accumulated as indicated by the stock market (2008-2016). Moreover, individuals are going back to school mastering a trade, learning a new language or degree, all of which can add increased value to your profile and efforts to improve your standing.

As a result, I have received some very encouraging responses from the readers of the South Jersey Journal; therefore, I thought it important, in this month’s column to say, Thank you.

On the last day of Black History Month February, 2016, the AACCNJ held a luncheon at the Nassau Club in Princeton, NJ. The club is a very prestigious venue whose members include corporate executives, prominent community members, and government and business leaders. We chose this venue for these reasons, in addition our speaker is a Princeton University Alumnus, whom after graduating in the 1980’s went on to establish a very successful enterprise that is now in its 33rd year of operation.

Our luncheon speaker was John Rogers, Founder, CEO and Chairman of Ariel Investments, a fund management company with assets over $10 billion dollars; whose offices are located in Chicago and Sydney Australia.

Mr. Rogers had an interesting upbringing; his father was a Tuskegee Airmen who flew over 100 successful missions. When, the elder Rogers initially applied for college he was denied due to his race, however, when he returned in uniform, he was granted the required testing and was subsequently admitted into college. Additional facts worth noting are that John Rogers’ parents divorced when he was three years old and he received stocks and bonds for his birthdays and Christmas versus toys. When John questioned his father why he gave him stocks and bonds versus toys, his father informed him that a white colleague made the suggestion. The initial gifts that were given to John Rogers were seeds that were a part of his foundation that he later grew and cultivated with the knowledge and experience from his Ivy-League education at Princeton University.