The annual Black History Month Keynote Address, hosted by the Black Student Association Tuesday, focused on the realities of being a black entrepreneur.
This year’s address was a panel featuring prominent black entrepreneurs in Nashville, like Belmont alumnus Emmanuel Reed, co-owner of Slim & Husky’s and Roll Out, who talked about the hardships he has faced.
“The most difficult thing I experienced as a black business owner was the connotation of being a black business owner. I had the fear of saying I was the owner, because I didn’t want to be judged,” Reed said.
However, Reed doesn’t want his business to be defined by his race.
“At the end of the day, I don’t believe in the term black-owned business, I believe in operating business.”
Mignon Francois, owner and director of Cupcake Collection, agreed.
“Everything I was supposed to be a statistic of, I wasn’t a product of,” said Francois.
Students got the opportunity to ask the panel questions about business advice, networking and faith.
Sophomore Sauda Tolbert said the panel provided her a bigger understanding of the struggle of entrepreneurship.
“I was provided with inspiration and confidence,” said Tolbert. “I definitely know coming out of here, whatever I want to do, I can achieve it. Whatever I can go through, I can come out victorious because of this panel.”
The students weren’t the only ones with takeaways from the evening. Panelist Page Turner, realtor and star of Nashville’s “Flip or Flop,” was also inspired by the Belmont students in attendance.
“People want to learn,” Turner said. “You can never learn enough, and by these questions I learned a lot. People still value knowledge.”
This article written by Christiana Green.