(NEWARK, NJ) -- How does the business world fit into the fight for racial equality? From Madam C.J. Walker — the world’s first self-made female millionaire of any race — to contemporary business titans like Jay-Z and Merck’s CEO Ken Frazier, Black business leaders have not only built their companies despite formidable obstacles, but they’ve viewed their work as an essential component of the struggle for justice.
In the next PSEG True Diversity Film screening at NJPAC, they will take a look at the long and inspiring history of Black business leadership and Black entrepreneurship, and how both have impacted the social justice movement.
Beforehand, people are encouraged to screen the PBS documentary Boss: The Black Experience in Business, which explores the ways Black innovators and executives have climbed the corporate ladder — or built companies of their own — and then used their positions to help their communities.
This season, the films NJPAC will present through the PSEG True Diversity Film Series will focus on social and racial justice, in response to the uprisings against systemic racism that have spread around the globe in 2020. To continue these presentations safely during the pandemic, they have redesigned this series to work as a book club: We’ll all watch the selected films at our homes, then come together on a Zoom video conference to discuss the film with panelists who can offer context and insight.
NJPAC encourages everyone to view Boss: The Black Experience in Business. A viewing link will be provided a week prior to the panel. Then, join them for a virtual panel discussion with the producer and director, Stanley Nelson on Monday, January 18 at 7:00pm, which will focus on the issues faced by Black business leaders as they climb the corporate ladder, from microaggressions to major roadblocks.
Moderated by Chike Uzoka, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of the Newark-based Valentine Global, our panelists of business owners, executives and academics in the field will talk about the support networks available to Black-owned businesses, the secrets of maintaining resilience in the workplace, the value of mentorship, and the vital importance of Black entrepreneurs.
Kai Campbell: Born and raised in Newark, Kai describes himself as an “envisionary” working in a distressed urban development. Kai launched his first restaurant concept, Burger Walla, in 2014; it was quickly heralded as one of the best burger joints in the state. He has since added Bragman’s Delicatessen, a traditional Jewish deli established in 1937, to the Walla Food & Beverage Group. He is also launching the new culture brand, Onomatopoeia, as a social commentary exercise and platform.
Stanley Nelson: Stanley, the filmmaker who created Boss: The Black Experience in Business, is an award-winning documentarian whose films about the African-American experience combine compelling narratives with rich historical detail. A MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Nelson has received numerous honors, including five Primetime Emmy Awards. In 2000, Stanley founded Firelight Media, a non-profit production company dedicated to using historical film to advance contemporary social justice causes. In 2013, Nelson received the National Medal in the Humanities from President Barack Obama. His latest film, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, premiered at Sundance in 2019.
Lyneir Richardson: Lyneir is the Executive Director of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CUEED) at Rutgers University, where he leads capacity-building programs that have assisted more than 450 local entrepreneurs. He is Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in the Department of Management and Global Business at Rutgers Business School. Lyneir is also CEO of The Chicago TREND Corporation, a social enterprise funded by prestigious impact investors to stimulate and invest in urban retail development.
Denise Woodard: Denise is the Founder and CEO of Partake, a line of allergy-friendly snacks inspired by her daughter’s experience with food allergies. Launched in 2017, Partake’s first product — delicious, nutritious, allergy-friendly cookies — can now be found in more than 2,500 retailers including Target, Sprouts, and Whole Foods Market. In June 2019, the company closed a seed round of funding led by JAY-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners. Prior to launching Partake, Denise spent a decade in consumer packaged goods at various Fortune 100 companies.
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) is located at One Center Street in Newark, New Jersey. It is America’s most diverse performing arts center, and the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey – where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted nearly 10 million visitors (including over 1.7 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.