Written by Dava Greely
We’ve all heard of “The American Dream”, and one man has made it his mission to help his community to realize “The African American Dream” through his work as President and Chief Executive Officer at what was originally called The North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development.
After graduating from James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro North Carolina, Kevin left home to pursue a military career, but there was clearly a bigger plan for him. A plan for which the seeds were planted as he grew up watching his family navigate life during The Civil Rights Era.
“I watched over the years, my family on both sides, particularly women in my family who owned businesses, my dad owned a business. My grandfather used to say, ‘Everybody should have a side hustle’ – and so they all had some kind of side hustle, whether it was catering, janitorial, or any number of things they were doing. And you know, it was always fascinating to me, I thought they were brilliant business owners, but they never really got a big business. They never got that big break, where they could hire people and have a company that sustained their livelihood. And so here I am now with this opportunity, in this position to do something about that.”
And that he does, at what we now call The National Institute of Minority Economic Development, by supporting minority-owned businesses via the provision of information, resources, technical assistance, and access to capital; the latter of which Kevin says is the number one challenge that minority business owners face.
“So, I take it back to when slavery ended, we were given nothing. The greatest thing we were given really was our freedom. But beyond that, we were given nothing. And so we’ve had to struggle, fight, claw our way to a different place, since that time, of starting with nothing. And if you look at the organizations that helped us along the way, to grow beyond where we were, there are only a few in the black community – you have black churches, you have historically black colleges and universities, and black banks. And you have these intermediaries, as I call them, who stand in the gap, and provide resources, provide guidance, and all of those things that you need in order to get a leg up. And I’m convinced people don’t want a handout, they just want an opportunity, but often we don’t know where the opportunity is. This is a lack of knowledge. It’s not a lack of ability. It’s not a lack of talent, it’s a lack of opportunity, and not knowing where the opportunity is.”
In addition to business and finance, Kevin is partial to helping his community to build wealth through homeownership.
“I also am a product of a mother who bought her first house when she was a college student at North Carolina A&T, a house that I still own to this day. So, talk about generational wealth. She had the foresight in her twenties to buy a house in her twenties…and now I still own that house to this day, free and clear of debt! I’m proud of what I’ve inherited, and I understand the responsibility of what that means, of passing that on to my children, and to so many others that I know. The only reason why they aren’t in a different place is for lack of opportunity.”
That explains his commitment to leading the way, standing in the gap, and acting as an intermediary for the historically underserved, especially for minority and women-owned businesses. With faith, fortitude, and a family history of entrepreneurship, Kevin Price is preserving the past and forging the future! He had nothing but praises to offer up for the people who came before him:
“They had the vision to build this building in 1921 that we own today, that the institute owns today. That’s just incredible, the legacy that we’ve inherited. And thank goodness for Andrea Harris and the board at that time of the institute for saying not only do we have to own it, but we have to make sure it stays in our hands. And so while people call all the time asking to buy the building, we can’t sell this building. We have to be here. I’m looking forward to the new renaissance of Black Wall Street. But Black Wall Street in my mind, the new renaissance is not a place. It’s a mentality. So I’m thinking of this very differently. But when people come through downtown Durham, I want them to see that that building was once owned by us and is still owned and controlled by us.”
What an incredible man on an incredible mission! How does he relax and maintain his sanity? With music, especially jazz. Cheers to keeping it smooth as he continues to make a SUBSTANTIAL impact!