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100 years after Tulsa, Black Lansing entrepreneurs recreate what burned » 4State News MO AR KS OK

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On a recent Monday night, a group of Black business owners, entrepreneurs and activists met at Gregory’s Soul Food in northwest Lansing. They swapped stories. Shared business ideas. Heard presentations from a life coach, a bodybuilder, a tour guide, a plant shop owner.

Their goal was simple: Black economic stability for Greater Lansing.

Since last fall, Gregory’s has served as the meeting place for Black Wall Street of Lansing, a networking group aimed at building a self-sufficient Black economy in the city. The group takes its name from Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District — a.k.a. Black Wall Street — a once-thriving Black business district burned to the ground by a white mob 100 years ago this week.

Black Wall Street of Lansing co-founders Leo Brown and Ahsahki Guy started the group in November to address issues they say stem from a lack of Black ownership in Lansing, including a dearth of Black-led educational institutions, grocery stores and community programs.

“We’re trying to create an incubator in our own city to build people’s businesses and use it as a networking hub to get people’s big desire — give people a sense of hope and unify our dollar to build Black economics here in Lansing,” Guy said.

In starting the group, Guy and Brown sought to replicate what was destroyed in the Tulsa massacre, which raged from May 31 to June 1, 1921. At the time, Tulsa’s Greenwood District was the wealthiest Black community in the United States. After violence broke out surrounding the arrest of a Black man for assault on a white woman — charges that were later dropped — a white mob tore through the Black neighborhood, burning businesses and shooting from overhead in private airplanes.

The mob destroyed 35 city blocks, 1,250 homes and virtually every business. Experts estimate up to 300 were killed.

Smoke billows over Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 31, 1921, after a white mob burned down the Greenwood District, which at the time was the wealthiest Black community in the country. The mob attacked businesses on foot and fired guns out of private airplanes, destroying 35 city blocks, 1,250 homes and virtually every business in town.

100 years after the riots: Entrepreneurs revive spirit of ‘Black Wall Street’

The Lansing group wants to prevent something similar from happening again — and to be prepared the next time a world-changing event like COVID-19 exacerbates preexisting racial inequities.

“We’re trying to start something so big that when COVID or any type of tragedy happens again, we have a place we can go to for financial stability, for agriculture so that we can eat, for shelter so that people don’t go homeless,” Brown said. “Because anything can happen.”

So far, Brown has hosted five monthly networking events, which he calls “think tanks,” at Gregory’s. This month’s event on May 24 centered on the Tulsa centennial and how to network.

Joy Gleason started GLAD Tours in 2016, giving walking and bike tours of Lansing and East Lansing. A speaker at Monday’s event, she noticed more young residents turning out to learn about small business ownership.

"Let's stop competing and start networking," said Leo Brown, founder of Black Wall Street of Lansing, during a networking event held Monday, May 24, 2021 at Gregory's in Lansing. The group's aim is to bring together Black entrepreneurs, business owners, organizations and consumers to create a self-sufficient Black economy in Lansing.

Gleason wants to see Black Wall Street of Lansing build Black wealth organically. She views the group as a way to help entrepreneurs “pull themselves up by the bootstraps, but with Black Wall Street of Lansing’s help.”

Brown, a jack-of-all-trades who works as an actor, designer, promoter and barber at Mo-Cuts, started hosting sporadic networking events at his home in 2014. They caught on, but lacked a concrete plan of action, he said. So he paused the meetings while he honed his chops in design and cosmetology and relaunched Black Wall Street with a mission of improving Lansing from the inside out.

Joy Gleason of GLAD Tours talks about her business during Black Wall Street of Lansing's "Black Think Tank" event at Gregory's.

“We’ve made a lot of genuine connections with people who are willing to help others,” Guy said. “And that’s what we want to start seeing more of — not competition, but people coming together to help one another collectively, because we all want to see Lansing thrive.”

Their next community-facing event is a 5K walk/run June 20 at the Capitol. The race celebrates both Father’s Day and Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people in America. The group is soliciting donations to Black Wall Street leading up to the race.

Quesha Taquay, who consults on credit repair under the nameThriving Credit Solutions, joined Black Wall Street of Lansing to help make her city a hub for Black business. She said Monday that while there are barriers to attaining wealth for Black residents of Lansing, the pandemic and a heightened focus on racial equity has spurred many into action. 

“People have (been) challenged a lot during the pandemic. There’s been so many blessings and (so much) heartache,” Taquay said. “(But for) those that have persevered, it’s the right time to make some movement happen.”

Ashley James, a life coach and trainer known as "Coach A'Jai," speaks at Monday's Black Wall Street of Lansing networking event.

She added that not everyone who attends a Black Wall Street think tank need be an entrepreneur or activist. At Monday’s session, she overheard a recent college grad express gratitude to others for sharing their ideas and building off one another. For him, it was a networking event — a way to find and connect with likeminded people.

Black Wall Street of Lansing’s next step is an “each one teach one” program, in which established business owners will be paired with young people to mentor on entering different industries. 

The program, Guy said, will allow older business owners to pass down hard-earned wisdom to Black youth, such as how to devise a business plan, raise funds and get a loan. Guy also hopes to lead after-school programs on gardening and growing food to focus young people’s minds on “positive things,” she said.

As for Black Wall Street of Lansing, the sky’s the limit.

“This is the very beginning, and they’re in the phase where they need to have the community lifted,” Gleason said. “My hope is they don’t run out of steam and keep going — remain focused and have the gentrification in town done by Black business owners and not other elites.”

Contact reporter Krystal Nurse at (517) 267-1344or knurse@lsj.com. Follow her on Twitter @KrystalRNurse.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances

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Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit

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Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.

 

 

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