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5 tips for Black entrepreneurs from media mogul Byron Allen
In this Jan 10, 2018 photo, Bernice King poses for a photograph at the King Center, in Atlanta. The assassination of Martin Luther King sparked riots and eventually led many Americans to revere the civil rights icon that some reviled during his lifetime. For his three surviving children, the past five decades have meant coming to terms with their father's death and legacy. (AP Photo/Robert Ray)
Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is calling on Comcast to not challenge the Civil Rights Act of 1866, in its Supreme Court case involving media mogul Byron Allen.
In an open letter to Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, Dr. King lays out the “cataclysmic” consequences of the cable company’s attempts to change America’s original civil rights law.
“We are alarmed at the consequences of a Supreme Court ruling that could have cataclysmic results for people of color, who comprise a large segment of your customers,” Dr. King wrote.
King’s letter comes the same week as Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL), issued a scathing critique of Comcast, and demanded the conglomerate be broken up.
Allen, who is Chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios, sued Comcast and Charter Communications for $20 billion, alleging racial discrimination because the companies refused to license his channels.
Dr. Bernice A. King says changes to Civil Rights Act of 1866 could have "cataclysmic results for people of color."
In pursuing a legal edge against Allen’s claims of racial discrimination, Comcast’s appeal to the Supreme Court rests on changing the essence of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. It would require people to prove race was the sole motivating factor for any discrimination claims, not a partial factor as was used in the past.
“To alter the Act to accommodate discrimination against people based on race would reverse precarious progress in the freedom struggle, which my father was assassinated for leading and which my mother continued to join others in leading until her death,” Dr. King writes.
“Knowing that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was enacted to prohibit discrimination of any kind when making and enforcing contracts, why is Comcast relentlessly fighting for the right to avoid doing business with a person of color so long as her or his race is one of several factors for such refusal?”
King, who is the CEO of The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, is protective of her parents’ legacies– invoking their names on issues of the utmost importance.
Her two-page letter signals the seriousness of the moment not only for Black America, but the entire country.
Comcast will argue its case before the Supreme Court, Wednesday, November 13th, utilizing the legal support of President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice.
Read Dr. Bernice King’s entire message to Comcast below:
Isn't is nice when your REAL feelings finally come to the surface? Indeed #45 effect. Now that we all know how you feel, if you keep your job, which I doubt, all your reporting will be from "thoses" neighborhoods, with those people.
Byron Allen Files $10 Billion Lawsuit Against FCC, Charter Communications Claiming Racial Discrimination
That hard work has paid off, as this Tuesday, Allen was inducted into the 2019 Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.
Allen doesn’t mince words: Black people may have been “blackballed” from the day they were born, but they can still succeed. He tells young entrepreneurs not to be afraid to speak out and dream big.
“You cannot live in fear. You were born Blackballed. You know you’ve been positioned to fail and you have to recognize where you are.”
These are five other gems from Allen’s interview that remind us to pursue our greatness and know our true potential.
1. Open your own doors to your dreams.
So many young entrepreneurs just want to know: “How do I get my foot in the door?” Who can I talk to, where can I work, or what can I do to get me in the right rooms. If you follow in the footsteps of Byron Allen, you’ll realize that the door might take an extra push.
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Allen’s passion for entertainment stemmed from his mother, Carolyn Folks. With a 7-year-old Byron in tow, Folks moved to Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the U.S., to pursue a Master’s in Cinema TV Production from UCLA. After being turned away from a full-time position at NBC, she created her very own internship program at the esteemed broadcasting company by merely asking.
“She asked a question that changed our lives,” Allen told hosts Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy. “She asked, ‘Do you have an internship?’ And they said, ‘No.’ And then she went to the next question. ‘Will you start one with me?’ And they said ‘Yes.’.”
During her internship and afterward, Young Byron followed his mother to work every day, bouncing between the sets of legendary shows like The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Sanford and Son.
“I just went from studio to studio to studio, and I thought, what a wonderful way to go through life, making people laugh, making television and entertaining the world,” says Allen.
“This is what I’m gonna do with my life. And all of that is because of education. My mother is getting in there and opening that door.”
READ MORE: Byron Allen takes over ‘The Breakfast Club’ to talk global business, Black ownership, and the steps to becoming a billionaire
2. Money is a mindset.
If getting money is your goal as an entrepreneur, then don’t sweat it. Sweat for it.
“Making money is easy,” Allen said. “That’s a mindset. You could put up a radar and say, where’s trouble? And trouble will find you. You can put up a radar and say, where’s this? And it will come to you,” says Allen.
“Money is easy. Don’t be afraid of money. Let money love you. Money will always be with you. There’s plenty of money.”
Allen learned about money early on out of necessity.
“Money was really tight. And that clicked with me as a kid. So I started figuring out how to make money early on,” he says.
“Money is there for you. And you can make all that and more,” Allen told the Breakfast Club hosts.
Getting in the right mindset can propel you in the right direction. Thoughts lead to ideas that inspire action. But of course, your mindset means nothing, unless you follow Allen’s next tip.
NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 29: Byron Allen speaks at the Broadcasting & Cable Hall Of Fame In New York’s Historic Ziegfeld Theatre on October 29, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Entertainment Studios / Allen Media Group)
READ MORE: Weather Channel owner Byron Allen wants to highlight climate change’s impact on Black communities
3. Be persistent.
If you want to start a business, get comfortable hearing the word “no.”
In 1993, while trying to get ‘Entertainers with Byron Allen‘ on-air, Allen heard ‘no’ from about 1,300 television stations.
“On average, they all told me no about 50 times,” Allen remembers. “And literally, I sat in my dining room table from sunup to sundown, and I got about 15,000 no’s. And after a year of doing that, I was able to squeeze out about one hundred and fifty yeses. And I got a TV station in every market from New York to Waterloo Island.”
Allen would go on to build Entertainment Studios, one of the largest independent producers of TV and film, with hit movies like “47 Meters Down,” a shark film that grossed $62.6 million dollars worldwide, and only had a budget of $5.5 million dollars.
“I didn’t have two nickels to rub together, and I decided I’m going forward,” Allen recalls about his early days. “And I went forward. I didn’t know how I was gonna get it done, but Martin Luther King, like he said, that’s faith…”
4. You’re never too young
You should never let your age hold you back, whether you think you’re “too young” or “too old.” Allen got his start at only 14 years old, doing comedy routines in Los Angeles.
“I started when I was a kid because I was watching Redd Foxx and Johnny Carson and all of these comedians, and I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to start doing stand up,'” remembers Allen.
“Then a guy saw me, a terrific guy named Wayne Klein. He saw me. And he said, ‘Who wrote those jokes?’ I said, I did. He said, I know somebody might be interested in writing with you. I said I gave my phone number, and I got a call like a week or two later. And this guy calls me up. He says, ‘let me speak to Byron.'”
That “guy” was Jimmie Walker, from the classic American sitcom, ‘Good Times.’ He goes, “My man, Wayne Klein, says you’re funny. So if my man Wayne Klein says, you funny, you must be funny. You want to come, write some jokes with us?”…So I start writing jokes with Jimmie J.J. Walker and went to his apartment. I was 14 years old.”
Allen would go on to be the youngest comedian to perform on the Johnny Carson show, a gig he first turned down so he could finish high school.
READ MORE: Byron Allen inducted into the 2019 Class of Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame
5. Pull up (at least) two chairs when you take a seat at the table.
Everyone deserves equal access to capital, but so often, black communities and businesses are not given a fair shot. When this happens, we need to turn to each other before anyone else. Understanding that most companies are started with bank loans, Allen approached President Barack Obama with one request: audit the banks.
“I said, ‘I’m not any different than anybody else. I have an agenda. My agenda is that I want for all Americans to have equal access to capital and opportunity, especially African-Americans, the furthest left behind.’ So I said, ‘You just spent 700 billion dollars to bail out the banks. And I want you to audit the banks and see if they’re lending money to Black people.'”
Allen’s principle of advocacy is one that applies in any arena. Whether holding politicians accountable or climbing the corporate ladder: once you take your seat at the table, remember to make room for someone else.
Watch the full epic Breakfast Club interview with Byron Allen below, and hit us in the comments with what gems you took away.
“Everyone talks about diversity, but diversity in Hollywood and the media starts with ownership,” Entertainment Studios CEO says
Entertainment Studios Network CEO Byron Allen is heading back to court, this time filing a $10 billion lawsuit against the FCC and Charter Communications claiming racial discrimination against African-American-owned media.
“President Obama and the Democratic Party have completely excluded the African-American community when it comes to economic inclusion,” Allen said in a statement to TheWrap Wednesday.
“Everyone talks about diversity, but diversity in Hollywood and the media starts with ownership. African Americans don’t need handouts and donations; we can hire ourselves if white corporate America does business with us in a fair and equitable way,” he continued.
In a $10 billion lawsuit filed at the Central District Court of California Wednesday, Entertainment Studios Networks, Inc. and the National Association of African American-Owned Media (NAAAOM) claimed that Charter Communications engaged in racial discrimination in contracting against 100 percent African-American-owned media in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. section 1981.
The suit was also filed against the Federal Communications Commission “for approving mega-media mergers, such as Comcast/NBCUniversal, that discriminate against African American-owned media,” according to the documents obtained by TheWrap.
The suit further states that of the over $4 billion spent annually by Charter Communications on cable channel carriage fees and advertising, zero dollars are spent with 100 percent African American-owned media companies. “Because of this racial discrimination, President Obama’s FCC should never approve Charter Communications’ acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks,” it claimed.
“Our lawsuit seeks to stop Charter Communications’ ‘Jim Crow’ policies and collusion with elected officials in order to continue its exclusion of 100 percent African American-owned media,” Allen said. “President Obama and the FCC have left 100 percent African American-owned media with no choice but to fight for our rights.
“With this suit, as well as others to follow, NAAAOM and I intend to stop these corporate racist atrocities and the resulting African American financial genocide that we witness every day.”
“Charter Communications does not do business, nor have they ever done business, with 100 percent African American-owned media. I think they are simply an evil corporation,” Mark DeVitre, President of NAAAOM, added. “President Obama and the FCC have failed the African American community so miserably, they have forced African American-owned media to the edge of extinction. Racism, and the lack of true economic inclusion, must stop.”
Last year, Allen filed a $20 billion racial discrimination lawsuit against Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, claiming they were blocking equal access for black-owned networks.