Richard Levick Asks – Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

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The house of everyone is to him as his Castle and Fortress as well for defense against injury and violence, as for his repose.”

—Sir Edward Coke

We’ve simplified this over the last 400 years to “a person’s home is their castle,” and here we are, the day after the American election, thinking about our national neighborhood and what our proverbial neighbors are going to do.

Perhaps today, the day after the American election, is a good time to think not just about our neighbors but housing, too. Nothing good happens without home base. Not poverty reduction, upward mobility, solid family support, law and order, or education, let alone peace and community. Just think about what Covid-19 is doing to children in homes with little or no Internet connectivity. We cannot build forward without a solid housing foundation.

I always find myself looking backward to look forward, so it got me thinking about John Keats, the 19th century poet. He gave up an early medical career to focus on poetry, only to find his first book widely derided by critics. After tuberculosis – or consumption as it was called then – took his mother, then brother (his father had died when he was eight), Keats, too, found himself suffering from TB, so he moved to the country to stay with a friend. Next door lived a beautiful young woman named Fanny Brawne; Keats fell in love with her. Within months, before he had to move again (and tragically pass away at age 25 in Italy), he wrote most of his now-famous poetry. A heartbreaking story about a life and love tragically cut short, but also a story of a remarkable burst of inspiration that has made us all the richer – and more romantic – for it. FTD and De Beers without Keats? I don’t think so.

As John Keats wrote in Endymion, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.”

Recently, I met Eugene J. Jones, Jr., CEO of the Atlanta Housing Authority, and prior to that, eight other cities in the U.S. and Canada. If anyone knows housing as the epicenter to all things good economically and familial, it is Mr. Jones. Whatever happens on Election Day 2020, America is going to have to look to rebuild and recover from a once-in-a-century pandemic that has devastated the country and, particularly, communities of people of color. No issue seemed more important to launch our newest weekly podcast, The Innovators, with Clark Atlanta University, an HBCU, where W.E.B. Du Bois served as one of the founding faculty and wrote most of his influential works.

The podcast, co-hosted with CAU President George T. French, Jr., focuses on amplifying African-American and minority business-driven innovation and successful DEI business initiatives.

The key to diversity, equity and inclusion is not just the hiring and promotion process, though those are all obviously critically important. The key is starting in the homes, in the communities and in the universities, being partners from the start. Join us, won’t you, for a program that provides a platform to discuss challenging issues, with entrepreneurial leaders who are looking forward and will encourage you to think and act differently.

“Strive for that greatness of spirit that measures life not by its disappointments but by its possibilities.”  W.E.B. Du Bois

Listen to the program

Richard Levick

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