African-American business leaders on George Floyd

George Floyd

Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discussing the African-American business leaders on George Floyd and the protests; 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

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Business Leaders On George Floyd

1) I awakened this morning to sounds of protesters marching past my building and a helicopter flying overhead. Then I learned that Rothman’s – a men’s clothing store located near Union Square, which is owned by a close friend – was looted last night…

This daily e-mail is focused on business and investing, so I’m not going to get political – you can read plenty of commentary elsewhere, from people far more qualified than I am.

But it’s important for investors – for all thoughtful and educated people, in fact – to understand the real grievances that have led to widespread protests and, unfortunately, violence across the country.

With this in mind, I wanted to share what some of America’s leading African-African businesspeople are saying…

Vista Equity Partners CEO On George Floyd

Here’s what Robert Smith – the founder, chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, and who’s worth $5 billion according to Forbes – wrote to his firm’s staff over the weekend:

Dear Vista Family,

This has been a heartbreaking and painful week for America and a reminder that in our endless pursuit of a “more perfect union,” a great deal of work remains.

When I see the face of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, or Christian Cooper, I see myself as a young man; I see the faces of my children; and I am reminded of the many times in my life when I have been judged not by my character, but by my skin color. I am not alone. I have heard from many of you that you have been deeply moved by these events, and I did not want them to pass without sharing a few thoughts with you.

And I can still vividly recall the pain I felt as a youth when I found my mother and father comforting each other as they just learned that my uncle was shot dead, by a white gas station attendant. And I was quite confused by this as my uncle, who had just received his masters degree and was recently married, was quite excited about having landed a job with the State of Colorado inspecting various facilities across the state. Apparently this gas station attendant couldn’t imagine why an African American would have a state gas card and felt the appropriate action was to shoot and kill him. This was almost 50 years ago, and the pain still lingers.

In so many ways, this is a better, stronger, more inclusive country than it has ever been. In other ways, progress still feels so elusive. There is still so much hate, bigotry, anger, violence, and misunderstanding in our society that’s a lot harder to overlook after the events of this week.

It’s natural to feel helpless in light of the events we’re seeing in the news. Each of us has to choose to overcome. Each of us can embrace the words that Dr. King spoke in a sermon in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1957. He said, “We must discover the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world.”

We may not be able to mend all the broken parts of our society immediately, but we can each contribute the love and understanding in our hearts and in our souls to our families and our communities. Take the time to reach out to the communities that are grieving most, and let them know that you support them and we are one.

Let’s each of us hold the people we love a little tighter this weekend, and do our part to make of this old world a new world. We have work to do.

With love and gratitude,


Citigroup CFO On George Floyd

Citigroup (C) CFO Mark Mason published this on the bank’s corporate blog. Excerpt:

I have debated whether I should speak out. But after some emotional conversations with my family earlier this week, I realized I had to.

In fact, we all need to.

Even though I’m the CFO of a global bank, the killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky are reminders of the dangers Black Americans like me face in living our daily lives. Despite the progress the United States has made, Black Americans are too often denied basic privileges that others take for granted. I am not talking about the privileges of wealth, education or job opportunities. I’m talking about fundamental human and civil rights and the dignity and respect that comes with them. I’m talking about something as mundane as going for a jog.

JPM’s Consumer Banking CEO On George Floyd

Thasunda Brown Duckett, JPMorgan Chase’s (JPM) consumer banking CEO, posted this on her Instagram account. Excerpt:

It’s 2020 and Enough Is Enough. We can no longer be silent… let’s go back so we can truly understand the true jobs that are needed to be done to heal this original sin. To heal the heaviness that I can’t escape. Let’s do it with one goal – forward progress towards equality and a more perfect union. We can’t heal without truly understanding the depth of the disease. Yes it’s painful and my tears are real. But in order to ensure our future is brighter… that real sustainable progress can be made… we have to go on this journey as a human race.

Lowe’s CEO

Here’s what Lowe’s (LOW) CEO Marvin Ellison tweeted. Excerpt:

Tensions have been rising in our country for some time now. As the pandemic and economic crisis have upended lives, so too has the racism that, for far too long, has torn families and communities apart. I grew up in the segregated south and remember stories my parents shared about living in the Jim Crow South. During this time of Jim Crow, people of color were viewed and considered second class citizens.

So, I have a personal understanding of the fear and frustration that many of you are feeling. To overcome the challenges that we all face, we must use our voices and demand that ignorance and racism must come to an end. This is a time to come together, to support one another and, through partnership, begin to heal.

Oprah Winfrey

Lastly, here’s what Oprah Winfrey wrote on her Instagram account. Excerpt:

I’ve been trying to process what can be said or heard in this moment. I haven’t been able to get the image of the knee on his neck out of my head…

#GeorgeFloyd: We speak your name. But this time we will not let your name be just a hashtag. Your spirit is lifted by the cries of all of us who call for justice in your name!

1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

2) It’s sadly ironic that today marks the 99th anniversary of one of the ugliest episodes in our nation’s history: the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. On that June 1 day, a white mob attacked the thriving black Greenwood district – referred to as “Black Wall Street” – burning it to the ground and killing an estimated 300 people. Click here to learn more about it.

Best regards,


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