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Lessons in business and economics for young, Black scholars

By Tariqah Shakir-Muhammad -Final Call Newspaper- | Last updated: Jan 22, 2019 - 10:49:59 AM

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Dr. Watkins spoke with eager, entreprenuers in-training from Muhammad University of Islam on January 15.
CHICAGO—Dr. Boyce Watkins, financial scholar, economics expert and entrepreneur, returned to Muhammad University of Islam to speak with male upper grade and high school students, January 15. This was an extension from his first workshop at the Nation of Islam educational institution held mid-December when he addressed female upper grade and high school students (See Final Call, Vol. 38 No. 13).

He spoke to students about financial independence and initiating and managing a business within the Black community.

“The more you can work together, the more you can accomplish,” Dr. Watkins told dozens of young men during the two-hour workshop, held in the sanctuary of Mosque Maryam which sits adjacent to the school on the grounds of the National Center at Nation of Islam headquarters. “When you learn how to work well with other people, the more you succeed,” said Dr. Watkins.

He shared some background on his start in business and enrolling in college when he first made the decision to be the best he could be.

“The reason my grades were bad was because I didn’t see any reason for me to learn (in school), I didn’t see any value in that,” he stated. “So, when you don’t have access to the knowledge and you don’t know that you need access to the knowledge, you don’t have the knowledge,” he stressed to the young men. As a boy, Dr. Watkins said he dabbled in entrepreneurship by selling candy to his friends.

He explained that his interest in finances arose in college when he didn’t have any money. Through trial and error, he learned the value of doing for self and working with his own people.

“The problem with the Black man and woman in America is that we have the pot of gold right in our backyard without realizing it,” he continued, reiterating why Black communities need to pool their resources and eliminate want and need as stressed by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan from Muhammad’s Economic Blueprint.

During a question and answer session, young men asked insightful questions including inquiring about cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, dealing with successes and failures in business, entrepreneurship and much more.

Malachi Muhammad, 14 and in 10th grade stated that Dr. Watkins is inspiring and relatable. “I want to start my own business and I’m in that process so when he basically taught about the struggles and trials that you might endure, basically I prepared myself and started to prepare myself for the things that might happen.”

Ahmad Muhammad, 15 said the workshop was powerful and the discussion about community efforts stayed with him. “When he talked about there was strength in numbers, I thought that was really important because a lot of people, when they become famous or start making a lot of money, they kind of focus on themselves more than other people and it doesn’t really help them grow as people.”

Dr. Watkins, describing Muhammad University of Islam as “the Harvard for Black people” and offered intern opportunities to students and reminded them of the Black Millionaires of Tomorrow program he offered for free to students at the school. 

He concluded by reminding the young men on the importance of doing for self, earning their own income and looking outside the box for business opportunities that are out there to pursue.

 “If everybody eats the same food, you’re going to get the exact same thing everybody else is getting so if you say, ‘I want something different’ or ‘I want to eat something different’, then you got to learn to cook your own food.”