Perhaps it was apropos that Atlanta’s own “King of the South” served as the final keynote speaker among a panel at John Hope Bryant’s second HOPE Global Forums, an annual event that uses dialogue featuring international thought leaders to cultivate a more inclusive economy.

Rap mogul and label boss Clifford “T.I.” Harris had just recently acted as an emissary for the black community when he sojourned to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus on creating opportunity zones in the black community.

Harris decided to keep the appointment after being invited by the late Nipsey Hussle to make the trek as a group to Capitol Hill to advocate on providing different incentives to invest in low-income communities.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck down Hussle on March 31—when he was killed in a shooting outside his Los Angeles store Marathon—before the meeting could take place, but Harris decided that the Marathon had to continue for black empowerment.

That marathon was in action back in Harris’s hometown of Atlanta when he helped millionaire businessman and philanthropist John Hope Bryant open the HOPE Global Forum’s annual conference at the Hyatt Regency.

Bryant, the founder of Operation Hope which hosted the Hope Global Forums, facilitated A-listers from a multiplicity of genres in order to devise ways to diversify the marketplace and include more minorities. Bryant said he hopes the gathering will spur ideas that support and empower everyone in a global economy.

During two days of programming, policymakers, laureates, former presidents, government officials, entrepreneurs, organization leaders, and other global changemakers representing a spectrum of industries and backgrounds, lead engaged delegates in critical dialogue to chart a new reality of inclusive economics—integrating ideas from finance, philanthropy, entertainment, government, and beyond, to develop a blueprint that can be activated for every community in every corner of the globe.

Hundreds of leaders in business, tech, science and philanthropy — approximately 3,200 delegates representing 25 countries — were in attendance in what was billed as the largest gathering in the world on behalf of empowering poor and underserved communities.

Among the myriad of prestigious speakers included health and wellness guru Deepak Chopra, Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey, Harris., comedian and actor Chris Tucker, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, American Airlines CEO Robert Crandall, legendary news anchor Tom Brokaw, Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler, San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York, JP Morgan Chase CEO Thasunda Duckett, Ambassador Andrew Young, King Center CEO Dr. Bernice King and Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.

Harris, 39, sat with Bryant to discuss Black ownership in their own communities on the panel, “Ownership and Equity is Everything,” which also featured The Gathering Spot CEO Ryan Wilson and entrepreneur Alphonso Cross.

Harris, the longtime Grand Hustle boss and the architect of the “About the Money” blockbuster single, told listeners that Blacks individually and collectively will only rise above their collectively dire circumstances when their minds rise first.

“You are as big as you allow yourself to be, or as small as you allow yourself to be. And your dreams will determine your trajectory — your dreams and the belief in your dreams. And how much attention and energy that you apply,” he said to Bryant. “How many times have you been told not to give up? Those are the things that separate the doers from the wishers.”

Harris brought back from D.C. some of what he discussed as a way to infuse new energy in our communities.

“With the Opportunity Zones, there are incentives for business owners to invest in those communities. With the funds that you invest, you will get a 10 percent discount on taxes. If you invest in the area for 10 years, you owe no taxes for the funds you invested,” Harris said.

“When I went to Washington, D.C., I told them ‘I was born in an opportunity zone. I’ve been in this zome looking for an opportunity.’ We are looking to educate ourselves so that we can give the information to others who can benefit from it as well.”

Harris said a reorganization of community priorities are in order, adding that he prides himself on being a “creator” rather than just “a consumer.”

“There’s nothing wrong with buying a nice car. There’s nothing wrong with buying a nice piece of jewelry,” he said to Bryant. “But, at the same time, spend that same amount of money buying a piece of property and into things that you can invest in that will appreciate instead of putting your money into things that will depreciate. And the sooner you are to think like that, the better off you are.”

Bryant added that blacks need to have more of a business mindset and apply that to everything around them.

“Everything is business. He is a business, I am a business, you are a business. Everything is a brand. How are you managing your brand? Only in the dictionary does the word ‘success’ come before ‘work.’ You have to put in the work.”

Harris also admonished blacks against staying angry over circumstances beyond their control, such as discrimination. He said it clouds judgment.

“Anger cripples you. Anger cripples you from developing the type of thought that will allow you to navigate through the circumstances that are actually making you angry,” Harris said.

Both Tip and Bryant advised the audience that they should stay connected to business organizations such as the HOPE Global Forum in order to stay abreast of the latest developments in business and continue to cultivate new relationships.

“If you do not understand how America works, you will fail,” Hope said resolutely, who which Harris concurred, adding: “You can’t play the game if you don’t know the rules to the game.”

(Photo: Courtesy of Operation HOPE)

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