First Lady speaks at LA gala championing Black brands and designers – Press Enterprise

Feb 4, 2024 | Canyon Crest Guide Newspaper | 0 comments

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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden spoke on the importance of supporting Black businesses and entrepreneurship at a star-studded gala at Paramount Studios on Saturday evening.

Related: President Biden lands in Los Angeles to woo entertainment leaders

The event was hosted by the Fifteen Percent Pledge, a nonprofit organization that asks businesses to commit 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned brands.

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It was attended by some of the biggest names in Black fashion, beauty and entertainment including including actress Tracee Ellis Ross, comedian Robin Theade and designer Emma Grede.

The First Lady and President Joe Biden landed in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon for a brief, one-day trip. She used the gala to highlight the Biden administration’s work to advance economic equity and make it easier for Black companies to receive funding.

Those efforts included doubling the amount of government loans given to Black owned businesses and investing $12 billion in community lenders to expand access to capital for minority owned businesses.

“I want you to know that my husband, President Biden, is your partner, he understands that systemic change requires direct action,” she said.

The First Lady spoke of the powerful reckoning brought on by the murder of George Floyd and the progress made to dismantle institutionalized racism since then. But she said that these advancements are under threat.

“The real work of lasting change lies in the moments when history zags, when progress seems to ebb, when the marchers have all gone home and the spotlight has receded, when the backlash has swelled and opponents are working harder to erase the hard fought gains that we’ve made,” she said. “We can’t let them prevail.”

Aurora James, founder of The Fifteen Pledge, also spoke about attacks on the diversity, equity and inclusion movement.

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She launched the nonprofit during the peak of Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. Since then it has directed almost $14 billion worth of revenue to Black owned businesses through partnerships with major brands including Sephora, Nordstrom and Macys.

James pointed to the Supreme Court’s overruling of affirmative action as an example of where progress has been lost.

“There are no longer protections in place to ensure that we have an equal shot at an education, a good job, a bank loan, really anything,” she said. “This campaign is coordinated, it’s premeditated and it’s no coincidence that it’s intensifying at a very, very critical election.”

Both James and Dr. Biden used the evening to call on event attendees — who represent some of the most influential Black voices in America — to help mobilize voters in November.

Capturing the Black vote will be essential for a Biden path to reelection, many experts say.

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