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October 06 2014

Empowering Communities and Entrepreneurs Through Faith-based “Civil Rights to Silver Rights” Small Business Conference

IRVINE, CA -- October 5, 2014 – John Hope Bryant, Founder and CEO of Operation HOPE, whose ground breaking global initiative, Project 5117, of teaching “financial dignity” throughout under-served communities delivered a rousing keynote speech on Saturday. “There’s a difference between being poor and being broke. Half of our poverty is a result of low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in yourself,” said Bryant. “We may want the American Dream, but without an understanding of commerce and finance, we are basically economic slaves. The solution starts with recognition of  self-esteem deficit.”  

In his New York Times best-selling book, How The Poor can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class, Bryant, reveals how unlocking opportunities in deeply impoverished communities can stimulate growth and help close the economic inequality gap. “Operation HOPE is working to give people the “memo” on the language of money. There are probably 5 billion people, plus, on this planet who never got the “memo”, don’t even know it exists,” said Bryant.  

On Sunday, President Barack Obama’s Director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray delivered an impassioned keynote speech Friday to 400 guests attending the first National Faith, Leaders, Educators, Small Business and Youth Conference on economic empowerment at Christ Our Redeemer, AME Church.

The two-day “Civil Rights to Silver Rights” summit offered public workshops on faith based community development, financial literacy, youth mentoring and a town hall on higher education. Mr. Cordray received the annual AME distinguished public service award for his leadership in pursuing justice and equality.

“Director Cordray, whose impeccable credentials and unrelenting commitment to enforcing our nation’s consumer protection laws, reassures us that our country is moving a step closer to economic equality,” said Senior Pastor Mark Whitlock, Founder of Christ Our Redeemer, AME Church, in Irvine, California and conference host.

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement (Brown v Board of Education), the summit brought together a coalition of faith leaders, bank executives, business entrepreneurs and educators to promote financial literacy. 

“The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 is a historic opportunity for financial institutions and corporations to deliver a “hand up, not a hand out” in our movement toward fairness and equality for minority and women-owned businesses,” said Whitlock.

To highlight the depth of their corporate commitment to re-invest in underserved communities, Banc of California Chairman and CEO Steven Sugarman joined MUFG Union Bank Managing Director Julius Robinson, head of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Americas, and Byron Reed, Senior Vice President of Community Development for Wells Fargo Bank for remarks about how the banking industry can be a central pillar of broadening financial literacy programs. 

“We are excited to support this important summit as we share a passion for empowering small business owners, youth and our local communities through ongoing financial education,” said Mr. Robinson who also oversees the bank’s government relations activities and the MUFG Union Bank Foundation. “We are proud to collaborate with faith leaders, other banks, entrepreneurs, educators and the Consumer Protection Bureau to help determine additional ways of building and sustaining strong communities.”

As a tribute to our nation’s rich ethnic and cultural diversity, the all day sessions featured a special performance by the Southern Baptist Church, Los Angeles Choir and dynamic sermons by the Rev. Cecil L. “Chip” Murray, the Rev. Dr. Jessie Miranda, the Rev. Xavier Thompson and Bishop T. Larry Kirkland.

“As a community, we have a moral obligation to fulfill the unfinished work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he proclaimed “be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice,” said Whitlock, citing one of Dr. King’s last speeches. 


Stanley Wilson, President

The Wilson Media Group

(323) 351-3333

Sherry John

Operation HOPE 

(213) 891-2908