Trent Lott's Controversy Empowering Who?

Dorothy Pitman Hughes is an icon in the community, a true entrepreneur whose fight to secure jobs and true minority ownership of Harlem businesses is well documented . . .

By Yvonne Rose & Toni Moore

The presence of a Harlem and community based office supply store, owned by a dynamic black woman brings pride and hope to many in the community, but not to those who, either by design, or share lack of conscience continue to undermine her efforts to create a sustainable business in a community that is in need of the proper wealth allocations to its citizens.

Dorothy Hughes has been attributed to changing lives and creating employment for thousands in Harlem through her franchisees, a task, which she admits, has not been easy. "I made a commitment to the people of my community in the revitalization of Harlem and that has been my struggle."

Seventeen years ago, she began Harlem Office Supply, Inc., a full service office supply store and copy center currently located at 6 East 125th Street, Harlem, New York. In her nationally acclaimed book Dorothy shares her lifelong secrets to success and prosperity and tells you how to build a thriving business despite the malice of racism, sexism and classism.

"Wake Up and Smell the Dollars, the story of one woman’s struggle against classism, sexism, racism, gentrification and the Empowerment Zone is a winner!" Gloria Steinem, activist, feminist and founder of Ms. Magazine, reflects on her relationship with Dorothy, "I’m so grateful to know Dorothy! Nothing is too small or too big for her to take on. She helps me know that the way of behaving normally is behaving as if everything matters." Dorothy Pitman Hughes is a community activist, responsible for changing the lives of thousands of people throughout the world. "She is a member of several organizations that support economic and social development of inner cities and rural poverty communities in the U.S., including the National Black Woman’s Caucus, Black Women Enterprise (BWE), The Harlem Business Alliance, Inc., DPH Entreprenueur Marketing Netowrk, Women Initiating Self Empowerment (WISE). She also organized the first battered women’s shelter in New York, was a founding member of the Governor’s Task Force on Human Services, served on the Black Economic Summit in Washington, D.C., and served as a Committee of the Harlem Empowerment Zone.

As president and CEO of HOS, Inc., Ms. Hughes has contributed to apply her lifelong experiences in an effort to economically empower the people. She believes that, in order for African-Americans to thrive economically they must become Consumer ‘Owners,’ and along with the Public and Private Sector, invest and re-invest their dollars in local businesses." In May 1997 HOS, Inc. Ms. Hughes began to privately offer shares of stock at $1.00.

This powerful and timely book reveals the national plan for and the loss of the nation’s inner cities. Read "Wake Up and Smell the Dollars! So that you’ll be informed and prepared to survive the so-called "renaissance" in your community. When Ms. Hughes came to New York from Lumpkin, Georgia in 1957, she immediately committed her time and tireless energy to creating better economic and social opportunities for people who have been left out of the economic mainstream. She has owned and operated three day care centers and defined day care as we know it today, as co-founder and organizer of New York City’s Agency for Child Development (ACD) which cares for over 70 thousand children per day.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Oprah Winfrey honored Dorothy Pitman Hughes as one of America’s "Great Moms." She is the mother of three daughters - Delethia Ridley Marvin, Patrice Pitman Quinn and Angela Hughes and the grandmother of one grandson Sean Ridley. Reverend Al Sharpton, Activist, President and CEO, National Action Network, stated, "Out of the ashes, there always rises the Pheonix. In the confusion, someone comes with clarity. Meet Dorothy Pitman Hughes, the ‘Queen of Harlem Business.’"

"Wake Up and Smell the Dollars has become the nation’s #1 book for the small Black business entrepreneur aspiring to obtain economic self-empowerment. Ms. Hughes shares her methods from A to Z on how to fight the system and obtain financing from organizations in the Empowerment Zones across the United States, how to write business proposals, business letters, publicity releases and detailed business reports - as well as who to send them to. This comprehensive and invaluable book will be a constant reference to business opportunities and nationally; and includes a complete listing of investment institutions, foundations, philanthropic organizations and government agencies.

According to Ms. Hughes, "America is under siege, as the final phase of a 35-year plan to gentrify the country’s inner-cities takes effect. America will have transformed its inner cities from black communities to white communities within the next ten years; and once again, white corporate America and the Federal Government will reap the benefits of black labor and creativity. It’s the nineties contribution to the continuance of slavery into the new millennium."

Yvonne Rose is a freelance journalist and the author of Is Modeling for You? Toni Moore is a contributing editor for BBN.

He is currently working on a book on the AIDS crisis in Africa.