Author, Our Black Year & Founder, Empowerment Experiment
In 2009, global media covered Maggie Anderson, Congressman John Lewis’ former aide, President Barack Obama’s former law student, and a successful corporate executive, as she lived out her public pledge to “buy Black” only for an entire year. Her family was threatened, and her mother was dying of pancreatic cancer. She took this stand raising two babies and with no Black owned grocery store. Maggie’s historic year AKA “The Empowerment Experiment” (“EE”) resulted in an unprecedented amount of mainstream media, university, and corporate attention specifically on Black owned businesses, systemic racism in the American economy, and economic inequality; tens of millions in revenue for and deposits into Black businesses and banks; a landmark Kellogg study proving 1 million jobs could be created if Black firms received a small increase in support; and her critically acclaimed book, Our Black Year. Since EE, Maggie has given thousands of speeches and interviews hosted by the most respected corporations, universities, trade/ professional/ faith/ civic and rights institutions, and media. Millions have shed tears while taking notes as she teaches the victorious yet violent history of Black businesses and Black economic unity; preaches about economic justice and empowerment; and shares EE, and how it has since changed and ‘saved’ her life, effectively curing her muscular dystrophy. Read More >
TEDx: My Black Year
TEDx: Economic Lifespan of a Dollar
Northwestern University MLK Keynote
The Empowerment Experiment
In 2009, the Andersons - an Ivy league-educated, professional suburban couple with two young daughters - made history when they carried out a public pledge to completely live off black business for an entire year. It was called "The Empowerment Experiment." Via press coverage, the compelling story of the Andersons' stand and sacrifice, and the credibility of the landmark experiment, the family was able to articulate and prove the importance of self-help economics in the black community as well as increase awareness of how the lack of support for black businesses and professionals leads to the social crises that disproportionately impact black families and neighborhoods. Read More >
In this speech, Maggie Anderson shares the lessons learned from her book, Our Black Year, delivering an inspirational and intelligent message about homespun economic empowerment and "conscious consumerism." Her expertise in entrepreneurship, consumerism, economic empowerment, community stewardship, activism, supplier diversity, and self-help economics fuels this fascinating speech. Read Less ^
There are 60 KFC franchises in the Chicago Area and not one of them is black-owned. Companies ranging from fast food chains to Polo Ralph Lauren make enormous amounts of money off the black dollar, yet none of it is divested back to that community by engaging black-owned businesses. While marketing and HR have finally extended their reach to include African Americans - even prominently featuring black individuals in their ad campaigns, for instance - the same is not reciprocated in supply and management. Read More >
Maggie Anderson has become the leader of a self-help economics (or "conscious consumerism") movement that brings together business owners, consumers, corporations, and professional and activist groups to make sure that more quality minority-owned businesses get supported - as stand-alone entities and as suppliers, vendors, and franchises. Conscious consumerism, she explains, is all about supporting businesses that empower struggling communities. In this talk, Anderson rallies conscious consumers and progressive corporations alike to support and grow quality minority businesses in order to put the community's wealth back into its underserved neighborhoods, and explains why this outlook is so important - not just to minority communities, but to America as a whole. Read Less ^
In today's economy, one of the nation's primary goals should be to create more jobs for minority groups disproportionately affected by the financial downturn. In so doing, we would not only begin to bridge the economic gap between white and ethnic communities, but also invest traditionally troubled communities with empowered leaders engaged in the market economy who youth could look up to, instead of turning to drug lords and gang heads for guidance. Read More >
In this speech, Maggie Anderson covers such fascinating and underexplored topics as America's racially divided economy, the lack of supplier diversity in corporate America, economic disenfranchisement of minority groups, buying power vs. business/economic power, and self-help economics in ethnic communities. Specifically, on this last subject, she discusses whether or not it is racist for specific ethnic groups to exclusively support their communities' businesses, and whether public opinion on this matter changes with regard to the black community versus other groups. This message is perfect for college audiences of any color to inspire them to become those leaders who will improve their communities. Read Less ^
First and foremost, Maggie Anderson considers herself a mom - an "everyday mom," she says. But however "everyday" she may be, she found one cause dear to her heart and spurred by a conviction that she could do something about it, created a transnational movement. Read More >
In this inspirational presentation, Anderson urges all women to find their cause. Whether they are mothers, housewives, professionals, or working moms, women should not feel constricted to solely caring for their families or immediate social spheres, but should feel empowered to act for the good of the greater community. After all, the ultimate legacy of The Empowerment Experiment is to prove to individuals from all walks of life that a single person can make a difference, just as Anderson did. This message is perfect for women's groups and college students. Read Less ^
"I was impressed with how professional, thorough, and passionate she was. The membership, sponsors and the public were thoroughly pleased and impressed with Maggie Anderson’s speech."
"Maggie presented at American Express's Black History Month event to support Black owned businesses. She captivated our audience from sharing facts about Black history to expressing the trials that she encountered during her "Black Year". We were all moved and wanted to do more to support the Black community by the end of her presentation."
"Maggie Anderson left a lasting impression after she keynoted our annual Booker T Washington Economic Summit. Her passionate and provocative speech inspired a lot of hope and action for the Black Community. Indeed, truly refreshing for such trying times!"
"Maggie is such a powerful speaker! She was the perfect choice to keynote our Tuskegee University's 25th Booker T. Washington Economic Development Summit. So many participants said that she was an inspiration! She was passionate, charming, inviting, and funny. Maggie is truly the best!”
“Maggie is both an engaging and inspirational speaker. Her conversation was tailored to our Company and teammates. And months after the fact, we still receive complimentary comments asking if we can find more speakers like her. I’m not surprised because I heard her speak in person years ago. But the COVID-limited, virtual Maggie was just as impressive!”
"Maggie Anderson gave a wonderful talk at Northwestern a few years ago that community members are still discussing . She inspires both with her words and her actions."
"It is no exaggeration to say that Maggie Anderson was the greatest speaker we've ever had in the 15 years of our leadership conference. Smart and engaging, provocative and challenging, there is only one Maggie Anderson."
"Maggie set a precedent. The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) has been so enthused by her efforts and motivated by her challenges that we created our ByBlack.us platform. Maggie’s experiment revealed that we need to make it easier to shop with Black businesses, so now in any city and state, we can find Black businesses of all types to shop with for any need, at any time—ultimately making buying Black a lifestyle. A lot of that had to do with Maggie’s vision in launching the Empowerment Experiment and writing Our Black Year - One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy a decade ago. She is the perfect and the most powerful orator for this important message. Because of her speaking, ten years later, the mission is still here and relevant."
"Maggie has keynoted several events presented by our bank. Maggie has made it clear that our racial equity, and of course, our economic parity depend on our dedication to the principles and dedication she has written and spoken about and demonstrated in her everyday life."
"Maggie's speech at our signature bi-annual event was so powerful. Her years of experience, research, and depth of understanding of Black history, and how to advise and grow Black-owned business owners certainly resonated with everyone in the room. I can speak for everyone in attendance when I say that she left us mesmerized and with quantifiable actions we can all take to be better for our community."
"Maggie helped us to draw our largest crowd ever for a Black History Month event at Rutgers Business School. She inspired us all to reflect and to act."
"Dynamite! …An effective probe into how African-Americans spend so much money that flows so overwhelmingly out of their community."
"Blistering, honest! … A brisk call to action, offering a clear-eyed perspective on how African Americans got to where they are today and what they can do to support black business owners."
"Maggie was AMAZING. Her lecture was fact-filled and inspiring. Our students had great questions, which let me know they were processing what she said. Thanks so much for suggesting her."
"The economic odyssey of the Anderson family is nothing short of heroic. If you care at all about making the American Dream a reality for ALL Americans, you must read this book, and apply the lessons and learnings of The Empowerment Experiment that inspired it."
"Our Black Year is an eye-opening book that should be read by anyone interested in the nation's racial and economic divide."
"Anderson's book successfully illuminates the roadblocks faced by Black business owners and the racial divide that continues to persist in the U.S. economy.... [T]his book will appeal to all those looking for inspiration to effect positive change in their communities."
"Any serious attempt to close the racial wealth gap and build Black American wealth, must leverage the trillion dollars of buying power controlled by the Black American consumer. In Our Black Year, Maggie Anderson offers a clear, cogent and intensely personal view of one family’s journey to do just this. An important book that provides a path for others to follow."
"Thank God for this level of commitment to our Black Community. Our Black Year is an incredible documentation of what we all could do, if we just made up our minds to do it."
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