Black History Month with Real Estate Pioneers.
By Francoise Pollard
Francoise Pollard is a full time RE/MAX professional with a wealth of knowledge in the real estate market. A resident of the GTA since 1967, Francoise is an expert on the housing market in Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon Area. Her vast experience and knowledge enables Francoise to provide services to clients with various needs. Whether you are looking for that perfect condo on the waterfront or trying to find your dream home in the suburbs, Francoise can support you with the right advice and service.

Housing executives planned to create neighbourhoods in Harlem designed specifically for white workers who wanted to commute into the city. Developers grew overambitious, however, and housing grew more rapidly than the transportation necessary to bring residents into the downtown area. 

The once exclusive district was abandoned by the white middle-class, and frustrated developers were forced to cope with lower purchase prices than they first anticipated. White Harlem landlords started selling their properties to black real estate agents such as Philip A. Payton, John E. Nail, and Henry C. Parker. They also began renting directly to black tenants.

Meanwhile, the re-development and gentrification of midtown pushed many blacks out of the Metropolitan area. As a result, African-Americans began moving to Harlem en masse; between 1900 and 1920 the number of blacks in the New York City neighbourhood doubled. 

By the time the planned subway system and roadways reached Harlem, many of the country's best and brightest black advocates, artists, entrepreneurs, and intellectuals had situated themselves in Harlem. 

They brought with them not only the institutions and businesses necessary to support themselves, but a vast array of talents and ambitions. The area soon became known as “the Black Mecca” and “the capital of black America.”


National Association of Real Estate Brokers

After World War II, the nation found itself facing a mood of deep seated social segregation it could no longer tolerate or afford. Yet the South, confidently proclaimed itself to be the new plus ultra (uppermost limits) of Southern tolerance. Thus, was born the Civil Rights movement-a period of the most difficult but necessary struggle to topple the crumbling walls segregation had erected between Americans who had fought- and died together. 

The postwar years indeed gave African Americans inspiration, confidence, strength and hope for a better America. The United Nations had been formed, and Ralph J. Bunche had become the United Nations Division Trustee. African Americans were gaining better paying jobs, and the Supreme Court had finally passed a ruling that restrictive covenants and private agreement to exclude persons of designated race from the ownership of real property were not enforceable under the law. 

Although the lives of African Americans were now changing for the good, and a few victories had been won, schools were still segregated under the “separate but equal” theory- and equal housing had yet to become a reality. This is what drove the men and women who met in Tampa, Florida, on the sweltering night of July 29, 1947, to form the National Association of Real Estate Brokers- NAREB. 

These twelve pioneers, one woman and eleven men hailing from seven states across the country, are NAREB'S recognized founders:

Nannie Black, Detroit, MI
Macco Crutcher, Detroit, MI
Carleton Gains, Detroit, MI
W. D. Morrison, Jr., Detroit MI
O. B. Cobbins, Jackson, MS
W.H. Hollins, Birmingham, AL
George W. Powell, Jacksonville, FL
J. R. Taylor, Miami, FL
F. Henry Williams, Jacksonville, FL
Horace Sudduth, Cincinnati, OH
J. W. Sanford, Oklahoma City, OK
A. Maceo Smith, Dallas, TX

On this night, these people dedicated themselves to fair housing for all. They began by electing temporary officers as follows:

W.D. Morrison, President
Horace Sudduth, Vice President
W. H. Hollins, Treasurer
F. Henry Williams, Secretary

Word soon spread, and NAREB's first convention was held at the Convention Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, on July 19-20, 1948. It was a resounding success - a moment of synergy when men and women across the country were able to come together to voice their opinions as one and to take a stand against inequity and injustice. 

Since then, NAREB and its REALTISTS® have gone on to win victory after victory in support of equal housing opportunities for all. We are an association proud of our past, relentless in our struggle, and 100% dedicated to the REALTIST® creed- Democracy in Housing.


Black History Month in real estate with Francoise Pollard


Blockbusting is a business practice of U.S. real estate agents and building developers meant to encourage white property owners to sell their houses at a loss, by implying that racial, ethnic, or religious minorities — Blacks, Hispanics, Jews et al. — were moving into their previously racially segregated neighborhood, thus depressing real estate property values.

Blockbusting became possible after the legislative dismantling of legally protected racially segregated real estate practices after World War II, but by the 1980s it largely disappeared as a business practice after changes in law and the real estate market. Beginning around 1900, with the Great Migration (1915–30) of black Americans from the rural Southern United States to work in the cities and towns of the northern U.S., many white people feared that black people were a social and economic threat, and countered their presence with local zoning laws requiring them to live and reside in geographically defined areas of the town or city, preventing them from moving to areas inhabited by white people. 

In 1917, in the case of Buchanan v. Warley (1917), the Supreme Court of the United States voided the racial residency statutes forbidding blacks from living in white neighborhoods, as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In turn, whites used racially restrictive covenants in deeds, and real estate businesses informally applied them to prevent the selling of houses to black Americans in white neighborhoods.

To thwart the Supreme Court’s Buchanan v. Warley prohibition of such legal business racism, state courts interpreted the covenants as a contract between private persons, outside the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment; however, in the Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause outlawed the states’ legal enforcement of racially restrictive covenants in state courts. In this event, decades of racist laws which compelled black Americans to live in over-crowded and over-priced ghettos created economic pressures to avail black people of housing in racially segregated neighborhoods were annulled. Freed by the Supreme Court from the legal restrictions against selling white housing to blacks, real estate companies sold houses to those who could buy — if they could find a willing white seller. Generally, “blockbusting” denotes the real estate and building development business practices yielding double profits from U.S. anti-black racism; aggravating, by subterfuge, the white home owners’ fears of mixed-race communities to encourage them to quickly sell their houses at a loss, at below-market prices, and then selling that property to black Americans at higher-than-market prices.

Given then-standard banking criteria for mortgage-lending, black people usually did not qualify for mortgages from banks and savings and loan associations; instead, they recurred to land installment contracts at above market interest rates to buy a house — a racist economic strategy eventually leading to foreclosure. With blockbusting, real estate companies legally profited from the arbitrage (the difference between the discounted price paid to frightened white sellers and the artificially high price paid by black buyers), and from the commissions resulting from increased real estate sales, and from their higher than market financing of said house sales to black Americans. The documentary film Revolution '67 (2007) examines the blockbusting practiced in Newark, New Jersey in the 1960s. 

Methods of Blockbusting.
The term “blockbusting” might have originated in Chicago, Illinois, where, in order to accelerate the emigration of economically successful racial, ethnic, and religious minority residents to better neighborhoods beyond the ghettos, real estate companies and building developers used agents provocateurs — non-white people hired to deceive the white residents of a neighborhood into believing that black people were moving into the neighborhood, thereby encouraging them to quickly sell (at a loss) and emigrate to generally more racially homogeneous suburbs. 

The tactics included hiring black women to be seen pushing baby carriages in white neighborhoods, so encouraging white fear of devalued property; selling a house to a black family in a white neighborhood to provoke white flight, before the community’s properties decline considerably; selling white neighborhood houses to black families, and afterwards placing real estate agent business cards in the neighbors’ mailboxes; and saturating the neighborhood area with fliers offering quick-cash for houses. Like-wise, building developers bought houses and dwelling buildings, and left them unoccupied to make the neighborhood appear abandoned — like a ghetto or a slum — psychologic coercion that usually forced the remaining white residents to sell at a loss. Blockbusting was a very common and very profitable form of racist exploitation, for example, by 1962, when blockbusting had been practiced for some fifteen years, the city of Chicago had more than 100 real estate companies that had been, on average, “changing” between two to three blocks a week for years.


Black History Month in real estate with Francoise Pollard
Paul Williams (1894-1980)

Orphaned at the age of four, Williams was the only African American student in his elementary school. He studied at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design and at the Los Angeles branch of the New York Beaux-Arts Institute of Design Atelier, subsequently working as a landscape architect. He went on to attend the University of Southern California, School of Engineering designing several residential buildings while still a student there. Williams became a certified architect in 1921, and the first certified African American architect west of the Mississippi.

Poster from Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. News Bureau, 1943
Williams won an architectural competition at age 25 and three years later opened his own office. Known as an outstanding draftsman, he perfected the skill of rendering drawings "upside down." This skill was developed so that his clients (who may have been uncomfortable sitting next to a black architect) could see the drawings rendered right side up across the table from him. Struggling to gain attention, he served on the first Los Angeles City Planning Commission in 1920. From 1921 through 1924 Williams worked for Los Angeles architect John C. Austin, eventually becoming chief draftsman, before establishing his own office. Williams became the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923. In 1939, he won the AIA Award of Merit for his design of the MCA Building in Los Angeles (now headquarters of the Paradigm Talent Agency).
A. Quincy Jones (1913–79) was an architect, who is claimed to have hired Williams and later collaborated with him on projects in Palm Springs, including the Palm Springs Tennis Club (1947) and the Town & Country (1948) and Romanoff's on the Rocks (1948) restaurants.[3]

During World War II, Williams worked for the Navy Department as an architect. Following the war he published his first book, The Small Home of Tomorrow (1945), with a successor volume New Homes for Today the following year. In 1957 became the first African-American to be voted an AIA Fellow.
In 1951, he won the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Man of the Year award and in 1953 Williams received the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP for his outstanding contributions as an architect and member of the African-American community. Williams also received honorary doctorates from Howard University (doctor of architecture), Lincoln University of Missouri (doctor of science), and the Tuskegee Institute (doctor of fine arts). In 2004, USC honored him by listing him among its distinguished alumni, in the television commercial for the school shown during itsfootball games.

Williams was posthumously honored in 2008 with the Donald J. Trump Award for his significant impact on the evolution, development and perpetuation of real estate throughout Greater Los Angeles. The award was accepted by his granddaughter, Karen Hudson. Donald Trump presented the award to Hudson via video presentation.
Williams famously remarked upon the bitter irony of the fact that most of the homes he designed, and whose construction he oversaw, were on parcels whose deeds included segregation covenants barring blacks from purchasing them

Works/Private homes
Lon Chaney High Sierra House designed by Williams - Inyo National Forest
Williams designed more than 2,000 private homes, most of which were in the Hollywood Hills and the Mid-Wilshire portion of Los Angeles (including his own home in Lafayete Square, part of historic West Adams, Los Angeles, California,). He also designed at least one home in the San Rafael district.

His most famous homes were for Hollywood celebrities, and he was well regarded for his mastery of various architectural styles. Modern interpretations of Tudor-revival, French Chateau, Regency, and Mediterranean architecture were all within his vernacular. One notable home, which he designed for Jay Paley in Holmby Hills, and the current residence of Barron Hilton, was used as the 'Colby mansion' in exterior scenes for "The Colbys" television series. Williams' client list included Frank Sinatra (the notorious pushbutton house), Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Lon Chaney, Sr., Lucille Ball, Julie London, Tyrone Power (two houses), Barbara Stanwyck, Bert Lahr, Charles Cottrell, Will Hays, Zasu Pitts, and Danny Thomas.

In contrast to these splendid mansions, Williams co-designed with Hilyard Robinson the first federally funded public housing projects of the post-war period (Langston Terrace, Washington, D.C.) and later the Pueblo del Rio project in southeast Los Angeles.

Public buildings

  • The Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport during daylight.
  • Arrowhead Springs Hotel & Spa, San Bernardino, California
  • Beverly Hills Hotel (redesigned & added rooms in the 1940s)
  • Carver Park Homes, Nevada
  • First Church of Christ, Scientist (Reno, Nevada)
  • Hollywood YMCA
  • The La Concha Motel, NevadaThe concrete paraboloid La Concha Motel in Las Vegas (disassembled and moved to the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada for use as the museum lobby 2006).
  • Los Angeles County Courthouse
  • Los Angeles County Hall of Administration
  • Palm Springs, CA, Tennis Club
  • Roberts House Ranch, Malibu, CA (The remains of the burned down structures can be visited on the Sostice Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.)
  • Saks Fifth Avenue Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills California
  • Shrine Auditorium (Williams helped prepare construction drawings as a young architect.)
  • Jet-Age Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) (In the 1960s as part of the Pereira & Luckman firm and with consulting engineers, Williams helped design this futuristic landmark - (wiki).

Black History Month in real estate with Francoise Pollard
Roy Donahue Peebles a real estate icon

Recognized as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the nation, R. Donahue Peebles is the owner of The Peebles Corporation, the country's largest African American real estate development company with a multi-billion dollar development portfolio of luxury hotels, high-rise residential and Class A commercial properties and developments in Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Miami Beach.

Mr. Peebles has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Ebony. In August 2010, Black Enterprise named him among 40 “Business Titans who shaped our World” and he was featured on the cover of Black Enterprise’s November 2009 issue. Mr. Peebles appears regularly on CNN, CNBC and FOX to advise on real estate, economic and political issues. He has been profiled on shows such as Neil Cavuto, The Big Idea and Larry King Live as well as on the nationally syndicated "Tom Joyner Morning Show" and “Steve Harvey” radio programs. In May 2009, Forbes listed Mr. Peebles in the top ten of the wealthiest black Americans in the country.

A top-selling author, Mr. Peebles first book, The Peebles Principles, distills the lessons he learned on the road to building his successful company and personal fortune. His first-person accounts of his most intriguing deals illustrate the principles that guide Mr. Peebles in all of his transactions. His second book, The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth, released in September 2008, outlines the fundamental tools for real estate investing and details how to make money in any market. 

In addition to serving as CEO of his billion-dollar real estate development firm, Mr. Peebles is a highly sought after speaker. Viewed as a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs, he has addressed numerous educational, business and professional associations across the nation, including the University of the District of Columbia, Columbia University Graduate School of Business, The Wharton School and University of Miami.

Raised in Washington, D.C., in a single-parent household, he is an avid supporter of mentoring children and exposing teenagers to the value of entrepreneurship. 

Mr. Peebles spends time speaking to students around the country to urge and inspire them to pursue careers in business. He has received numerous awards over the last 25 years for his entrepreneurial leadership, community service efforts and development abilities. Mr. Peebles’ most recent awards include Entrepreneur of the Year presented by Rev. Jesse Jackson at the 11th annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit; Corporate Citizen Award from One Hundred Black Men of New York; the NV Award for Entrepreneurship; the prestigious Hennessy Privilege Award for extraordinary community contributions; induction to the Martin Luther King International Board of Renaissance Leaders Hall of Fame at Morehouse College in Atlanta; Community Leader Award from Russell and Danny Simmons’ RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation at their inaugural Art for Life event in Miami Beach; the Reginald F. Lewis Award for Entrepreneurship; and Corporate Honoree at Amsterdam News’ 100th Anniversary Gala alongside Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Congressman Charles Rangel and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Mr. Peebles holds honorary doctorate degrees from Johnson and Wales University and Sojourner-Douglass College. In addition, he served as a U.S. House of Representatives page while in high school, sparking a lifelong interest in politics. Over the course of the last 30 years, he has supported politicians on both sides of the aisle and has raised campaign funds for local, state and federal candidates. Mr. Peebles currently serves on the Board of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation as well as National Finance Committee of President Barack Obama.


Black History Month in real estate by Francoise Pollard
George Putnam Rile

George Putnam Rile, a native of Boston, participated in both the California and Canadian Northwest Territory Gold Rushes. In 1869, Riley along with 14 other Portland, Oregon residents--11 African American men, two African American women, and one white man--formed the Workingmen’s Joint Stock Association (WJSA).

The members pooled funds to purchase real estate that was divided proportionately. George P. Riley, WJSA president, was dispatched to Washington Territory to search for property. In August, the Association purchased the eastern half of the 20-acre Hanford Donation Claim in Seattle, Washington for $2,000 [in] gold coin.

The tract was legally given the name, “Riley’s Addition to South Seattle.” The original purchase, in the present-day Beacon Hill neighborhood, presently embraces the four blocks bordered by South Forest and South Lander, between 19th and 21st Avenues South. 

The origins of Tacoma, Washington’s African American population can also be traced to the arrival of George P. Riley in 1869. Riley and his associates purchased 67 acres of land in Tacoma, legally called the Alliance Addition but pejoratively labeled the “Nigger Tract.” Interestingly, none of the WJSA members, except Riley, ever actually set foot in Tacoma. However, the Alliance Addition would become the spatial basis for Tacoma’s African American community--the Hilltop neighborhood as it is presently known.

George Putnam Riley died in Tacoma in 1905 at the age of 72. 

Tacoma Daily Ledger, June 22, 1889, October 2, 1905. Laurie McKay, “The Nigger Tract” 1869-1905: George Putnam Riley and the Alliance Addition of Tacoma” Unpublished Paper, Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference, April 2001. pp.1, 6. Esther Hall Mumford,Seattle’s Black Victorians, 1852-1901 (Seattle: Ananse Press, 1980), 105-107.


Black History Month in real estate with Francoise Pollard
A Famous Canadian doctor who owned real estate 
Abbott was born in Toronto as the son of Wilson Ruffin Abbott and Ellen (Toyer) Abbott. The Abbotts were a prominent black family in Toronto who had left Alabama as “free people of color” after their store had been ransacked. After living a short time in New York, they relocated to Canada in 1835 or 1836. 

Wilson Abbott soon began to purchase real estate in and around Toronto. He owned 48 properties by 1871 and also became active in politics. He was also the first black Canadian who served the American civil war.

The family's prosperity allowed Anderson Ruffin Abbott to receive an excellent education. He attended both private and public schools including William King’s school in the black settlement of Buxton, near Chatham. He was an honour student at the Toronto Academy and later attended at Oberlin College in Ohio.

After returning to Canada he graduated from the Toronto School of Medicine in 1857. He matriculated in medicine that year at the University of Toronto and then studied for four years under Alexander Thomas Augusta, a fellow black physician. Abbott received a licence to practise from the Medical Board of Upper Canada in 1861, thus becoming the first Canadian-born black doctor.


Black History Month in real estate with Francoise Pollard

African-American success stories rooted in real estate

A little more than 100 years ago, the South's first black millionaire, Robert Reed Church Sr., tapped real estate holdings to purchase the first city bond issued by Memphis, TN to help the struggling town regain its city charter from bankruptcy.

In the early 1900s, before the Harlem Renaissance lit up New York with a cultural revolution, a barber-turned-property investor Philip Payton prevented the mass eviction of black tenants and helped pave the way for Harlem's growth.

No less important in the annals of African Americans in real estate, a lesser known Mississippi farm worker, Constantine Winfrey, bet white land owner John Watson he could pick 10 bales (at 500 pounds each) of cotton in one year if the land owner would give him 80 acres of land for the effort.

A property title recorded the land exchange between the two in 1881. In 1906, the local "colored school" was slated for demolition, but Winfrey arranged to save it by moving it to his property.

The real estate-empowered efforts by Robert Reed Church and Philip Payton to save large communities are well documented in the historic archives of the cities they helped survive and thrive, but, until recently, few knew of Constantine Winfrey's smaller real estate-driven effort to save a school.

Even his great-great-granddaughter was unaware.

She's Oprah Winfrey.

Real estate roots run deep

History often overlooks the achievements of African Americans in American history. African American history often overlooks the leading role real estate plays in personal success stories, especially those carved from the oppressive era of slavery and post-slavery Reconstruction.

That's changing, thanks to "African American Lives", an ongoing Public Broadcast Service (PBS) series now available on DVD.

Researched and developed by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. a W.E.B. Du Bois professor of the Humanities and chair of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, the research wasn't designed specifically to unearth real estate stories from Black America's past. Yet Gate's research does reveal a rich vein of real estate empowerment that runs through the ancestral pasts of some of today's most accomplished African Americans.

"Landownership represented economic freedom from slavery's bondage and the servitude of sharecropping or tenant farming," according to Gate's research.

Gates, putting a spin on the Alex Hayley "Roots" saga, used genealogy, oral history and family stories, but because the paper trail of black history eventually ends, he also employed deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis to trace lineages through American history and back to Africa.

"So, my model for this series is "Roots," but roots done with a cotton swab and a chemical analysis. These stories are as rich as the stories of Booker T. Washington or Frederick Douglass or W.E.B. Du Bois or Marcus Garvey. This is another way of telling history, and a way that everyone can respond to," Gates reported in his findings.

The research has been conducted for the ancestral pasts of television pioneer/philanthropist Oprah Winfrey; composer, entrepreneur, musician Quincy Jones; comedian, actor, activist Whoopi Goldberg; comedian, actor, activist Chris Tucker; CEO and pastor of The Potter's House, Bishop T.D. Jakes; NASA astronaut and Cornell science and technology professor, Dr. Mae Jemison; chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Ben Carson; Harvard sociologist and professor, Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot and others.

Among a host of exciting finds, Gates' research reveals bootstrap success often got a tug from real estate.

Ancestral news that really hit home

In addition to Winfrey parlaying real estate ownership into saving grace for a community institution, Chris Tucker's great-great grandfather Theodore Arthur Bryant Sr. used land ownership to save a small community.

At below-market prices in Flat Rock, GA, Bryant sold off parcels of his recently acquired 45 acres to give the town's black residents a n alternative to joining the Great Migration north following the collapse of Reconstruction.

Never benefiting from Union Gen. William T. Sherman's "forty acres and a mule" promise to freed slaves, Whoopi Goldberg's great-great-grandparents William and Elsie Washington were among the few blacks who actually acquired property in northern Florida through the Southern Homestead Act of 1866, a federal land redistribution scheme that made it difficult for blacks to acquire and hold land.

Less than 10 percent of blacks in Florida who petitioned for land under the act actually received a stake. Goldberg's ancestors received more than 104 acres in Alachua County, but only after qualifying for the title by completing mandated improvements -- building a dwelling, enclosing the land, and planting a successful crop -- all within five years of obtaining the parcel.

Mark K. Hicks, a currently practicing real estate and mortgage broker who has his own family real estate history to tell, says land and property ownership is tied to empowerment, because, well, money talks.

"I really believe in this because I really think that this is a way that we can create wealth for generations to come," said Hicks, owner-broker of The Seabrooke Group in San Jose, CA.

Hicks' father, Malcolm L. Hicks, was one of the first black "Realtists" a designation given to members of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, a real estate trade group comprised largely of blacks and other minority real estate professionals.

Hicks' father joined Dempsey Travis of Travis Realty Company in Chicago and author of "Real Estate Is The Gold In Your Future" (Urban Research Press, 1988) and Ernest Collins, 1965 founder of the Seaway National Bank (now Seaway Bank and Trust Co.), to help integrate Chicago's Southside by offering real estate and lending services to counter discriminatory lending and housing practices common in the area from the 1940s through much of the 1960s.

"His message was always 'Home ownership is the way to build wealth to take advantage of the American system'," said Hicks. February 11th, 2009 by Broderick Perkins


Gary Pieters

Black History Valentines Edition 

Gary Pieters is an elementary school vice-principal in the Toronto District School Board and a former member of the Star Community Editorial Board.

In the Greater Toronto Area and across Canada, Black History Month inspires Canadians of all diversities to take the opportunity to recognize and educate themselves about the legacy, achievements and contributions of black Canadians to this nation's history, culture and heritage.

My perspective is that black history is Canadian history, and this ongoing awareness is important in making the invisible visible, with the goal that black Canadian contributions to this nation's social, economic, cultural and political landscape will be understood, celebrated and shared by all Canadians.

The three levels of government have taken a step in the right direction by issuing proclamations and declarations of observance of Black History Month in their jurisdictions. Despite these efforts, I believe that many Canadians still do not even know that February is Black History Month.
"The Time is Now" is the theme the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) has chosen to kick off this decade (2010-2019). It is time for individuals, groups, institutions and the media to join or spotlight efforts to include the black Canadian experience in our diverse mosaic. It is time to inspire people of all diversities to put all the missing pieces together to create a full and accurate depiction of the historical and current contributions of black Canadians to the building and development of Canada.

With another Black History Month in progress, wider society should reach out to ensure that the success and excellence of black Canadians is fully represented and reflected at all levels of this modern 21st century state. From slavery to the Underground Railroad, from emancipation to generational settlements, from Confederation to current events, more than 400 years of black participation in the Canadian story are rooted in the DNA of every province and territory.

According to 2006 census data from Statistics Canada, Canada has about 31 million people of whom 783,795 are black, about 2.5 per cent of the total population. The census data further reveal that the Greater Toronto Area is home to about 352,000 black Canadians, while the black population of Ontario is 473,000. The implication for the social geography of the GTA is significant, as Ontario is home to more than 60 per cent of the country's black population.

The fact that blacks constitute the third largest visible minority in the Greater Toronto Area behind Chinese and South Asians demonstrates their potential to influence the future leadership, social progress and economic competitiveness of the GTA, Ontario and Canada.

Equity in society demands equity of representation. The time is now to incorporate black Canadian diversity at all levels of decision-making in Canada, including the judiciary, legislatures, tribunals, agencies, boards and commissions and related power structures.

Recently, I was reminded that in the federal cabinet, the Supreme Court of Canada and the Ontario Court of Appeal, there is no black representation. In the Ontario cabinet, there is one black minister, who also happens to be the sole black member of the Ontario Legislature. In the City of Toronto, the most diverse city of Canada, where I live and work, there is only one black city councillor.

One is not enough! It is time to correct this imbalance and close the representation gap that exists in the political power structures of the GTA, Ontario and Canada.

The time is now for black Canadians to get involved, engaged and empowered to participate in campaigns and elections as candidates, supporters and registered voters in every province, especially Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and British Columbia.
The time is now for black Canadians to put forth their candidacies for appointments to agencies, boards and commissions, and for these organizations to reach out and act to make these bodies more representative. There are many black achievers dispersed across the cities, provinces and territories of this vast nation with the training and talent to ensure their recruitment and participation.
Young people will become what they see. We must reach out to the next generation of black Canadian young people, who are the emerging leaders, and provide them with hope and the means to make a difference in transforming representation to better reflect an inclusive multiracial society.
The representation of black Canadians is a vital issue as we move forward into this new decade – all of us must do our part to build a more inclusive society. The time is now.


Black History Month in real estate with Francoise Pollard
African Methodist Church Episcopal in Oro built in 1849
Photo: C. Ferguson

The first black Settlement in Ontario. 
Francoise Pollard
Article 20. Black People in Real estate.
Oro, Canada's places of refuge for Black Families.

The first and the most northern black settlement was at Oro on the west side of Lake Simcoe. Most black settlements were usually in the southwestern portion of the colony or in the Niagara Peninsula. However, in 1830 many black settlers lived in Oro.

These settlers first came to the area as workers. In 1819 the government of Upper Canada wanted to build a road in the area of Lake Simcoe. This was the Penetanguishene Road. The government wanted this road to help move military troops around the colony in case another war started with the United States.

When the work ended some of the black workers decided to stay in the area and start farming. They were paid very little for working on the road so they did not have enough money to purchase land. Sir Peregrine Maitland, the lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, wanted to start a black settlement in this area. However, his plan was not well-developed.
Black settlers who fought in the War of 1812 were given land in Oro Township. They received 40 acres each. However, the land was not very good. It was rocky and swampy.Some black settlers sold their land and settled elsewhere. Other black settlers did not have any land grants. They squatted on land that did not belong to anyone. This land is called Crown land (i.e.: land that is not owned by anyone, but is controlled by the government), black settlers started farming, built homes, and started families in Oro Township.

Black settlers (and other settlers) worked hard to clear their land and farm. In 1830 the government wanted to expand the Oro settlement. However, some of the black settlers did not own their land. The government sent Lieutenant-Colonel Edward O’Brien to survey the land. O'Brien needed to discover what land black settlers had, and what the borders were. The government wanted to give this land to black settlers. O'Brien said the government had to give these settlers over 2000 acres of land. By 1830 there was almost 150 black settlers living in Oro.
Most black familie lived on the second concession line (townships are divided by roads, called concession lines). This road was soon renamed Wilberforce Street after William Wilberforce, a British abolitionist.
At first the Oro settlement did very well. By the 1840s it was large enough that the black families started their own church, the Coloured African Episcopal Methodist Church. One of the settlers, John Morris, donated some of his land so a school could be built in the early 1850s.

Over the years the Oro settlement slowly began to end. Some settlers left for more southern communities. Perhaps they had family elsewhere in the colony and wanted to be close to them. By the 1860s there were very few descendants of these early black pioneers living in Oro.

Black History Month in real estate with Francoise Pollard

Mr. Issac Olowolafe Jr.A Black Canadian Realtor creating a great Scholarship.

Faculty and students at the University of Toronto Mississauga kicked off Black History Month celebrations Thursday night with a flurry of speeches, poems and the showing of a documentary film.The kickoff event, held at the Kaneff Centre, featured guest speaker Isaac Olowolafe Jr., the founder and owner of a real estate brokerage that manages $100 million in assets and has 15 full-time staff and 45 part-time workers.
 Last year, Olowolafe Jr. established The Dream Maker Realty/Olowolafe Family Scholarship Award at the University of Toronto, from which he graduated in economics.He's also a past winner of the Harry Jerome Business Award, which was, he said at the time, "an honour and a blessing. I almost can't describe the feeling, the magnitude of it." While Olowolafe Jr. felt blessed growing up in a supportive family with a thirst for knowledge, he saw others he knew were struggling.
 For him, education was the key to empowerment. It's what his father, Isaac Sr., and mother, Omolade, taught him. So the 28-year-old established The Dream Maker Realty/Olowolafe Family Scholarship Award to pave the way for students majoring in African studies.
 Meanwhile, students and invited members of the community also heard the works of poet C.J. Eboh and spoken-word performer Chiamaka and watched a documentary film called Colour Me, which is intended to "change the way you think about race.
The film follows motivational speaker Anthony McLean as he speaks to young black people in Brampton, where their reactions and comments on race force him to re-examine his own identity, even while he mentors others. After the screening, director Sherien Barsoum took questions from the audience. One of the organizers of the event, Joseph Aresell, said the purpose of Black History Month is to show that "the impact of the African diaspora in shaping the history and future of our world cannot be forgotten.

Black History Month in real estate with Francoise Pollard
Forum designed to attract minorities to real estate industry

By Charlotte Libov 
Recruiting and promoting minorities is not only good human resource policy, its good business as well, say executives at CB Richard Ellis.
   The national commercial real estate company is seeking to draw more African-Americans and women join the ranks of commercial real estate. To that end, the company recently held a meeting at the JW Marriott. Called Driving Diversity into the Fast Name, the gathering enabled members of the CB Richard Ellis African-American Network to meet each other as well as company executives. The company also sponsors a Women's Network that has similar events, officials said.
   After the forum, the speakers reflected on the company's history of attracting minorities, and discussed future ways to foster minority representation at the highest ranks.
"When I came in 1980, the industry was predominantly white and male," said Chris Ludeman, president of US Brokerage for CB Richard Ellis. "Also, the brokerage business as almost exclusively white and male back then," he said.
   But the gender barrier was beginning to fall, he added. "What drove us to broaden our demographics was that the industry was changing. More women were coming in. They might be managers for institutional owners. They were becoming decision-makers, so that barrier came down," he said.
   Similar developments were occurring with other minority groups, according to Mr. Ludeman.
   "We wanted to look more like our clients. We found that, by diversifying, we got new energy. This enabled us to communicate with our clients and get more provocative ideas,' he said.
   According to Eric Yarrow, senior vice president in the company's New York office, the African-American Network group was born several years ago, when he, and a few other African-American employees, happened to meet at a conference. "I suggested to them that we should stay in touch, mentoring with each other," he said.
   Shortly thereafter, the group came to the attention of Brett White, the company's president and CEO, who decided that it would be a good match with the women's advocacy group.
   "The company not only embraces the existence of these groups, but financially supports them as well, giving them visibility in our public face to the world," said Mr. Ludeman. In addition, the groups are helpful in the company's efforts "to recruit and retain (minority employees) by developing and using peer group support as well as mentoring and coaching," he added.
   Both the African-American network and the women's group have been helpful in enabling the company to reach out to these groups, which are underrepresented in the commercial real estate field. Typically, women had been drawn to residential real estate, noted Mr. Ludeman.
   "There is a big difference between our company and residential real estate. We do business with other businesses, and our hours reflect that, but residential real estate was seen as a field that could be done by women transitioning back into the workforce," Mr. Ludeman said.
   Over the years, though, the number of women working in the field has increased, and many, he noted, "have been as successful, if not more successful, than their male counterparts."
   "Once we got them into the game and gave then a bat and ball, they performed beautifully," he said, noting that the company tries to be very flexible in its hours as well.
   The industry also faced competition in attracting top-caliber African-American recruits who might be interested in going to companies such as Goldman Sachs, which offers salary compensation, as opposed to becoming brokers at CBRE and working on commission, Mr. Yarbro said. He explains to potential employees that, although working on commission may seem riskier, the rewards can be greater.
   "From a recruiting standpoint, I explain that the entrepreneurial path is where the richest people have made their money," he said.
   Having a diverse workforce is imperative, especially in places South Florida, where the population is diverse, noted Raymond "Ray" Sandelli, the company's senior managing director for Florida.
   "The toughest thing is finding people in this high growth industry who are committed to this industry. In South Florida, there is the Latin community, the African-American community, and many other communities. All of these different groups are part of the fabric of our society and, to be successful, we need to tap into that," he said.
   Theodore Carter, senior managing director for South Florida, also spoke at the meeting. He joined the company last fall, after holding key positions in New York City and Newark, NJ, in District of Columbia government, in the US Treasury Department and most recently at the National Capital Revitalization Corps. He is CBRE's first senior minority hire.
   "We're in a multicultural market, so I want to make sure we are marketing to that. I want to make sure we are in every market," he said.
   But, above all, Mr. Yarbro said, making use of diversity networking not only helps foster the careers of minorities, it affords an avenue that benefits all businesses.
   "Where the business angle comes in is that we see it as a way to leverage our ethnic background to our advantage," he said, and noted that the minority network enables CBRE to network with some 600 other companies that also have formal diversity programs. "This lets us reach out to them and, while we're at it, we can whisper in their ear that we're a real estate company, so maybe we can do business."

Black History Month in real estate with Francoise Pollard

Today is the last day of February and also the last in my series of articles focusing in on Black people in Real estate. It was a pleasure to share something different than the regular Black icons that you normally come across during Back History Month.

I hoped you all gained some information and insight as to where we have come from as a race and were we are heading in terms of owning more real estate and businesses. I realized that there still many issues facing and obstructing Minorities from gaining access to real estate. Here are some of them that I identified while doing these articles.

1. A lack of Capital for downpayment.

2. Lack of knowledge and access to programs for investing and government grants.

3. Not using and forming Joint Ventures to gain the multiplying effect of purchasing power.

4. The predominant mindset of not setting up real roots in Canada and only thinking of renting from others.

5 Not having a clear plan on how to save towards the purchase of a home and keeping credit in good standing.

These are just few of the identifiable problems that come to mind. Most of them are easily rectifiable by just doing some planning,research and believing in ones self, by setting attainable goals.

My Job as a Real Estate agent is not just selling and purchasing home for clients, but to show people the path to financial success by tailoring the right properties to the right client, plus showing them the various options that they may not be aware of.

Black History Month is a good reminder to show us all the tribulations and persecutions were faced with, but also the numerous successes that were achieved under these trying circumstances. The work is not over and we are the ones that will write the next chapter and make our mark.

Again, thanks for your support and if you missed any of the articles they are located in my notes section of my profile.

Francoise Pollard your GTA real estate agent.


No comments:

Post a Comment