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Celebrating Black History Month Tags: Specialty

Our leaders are some of the best of the best, and we’re honored that they volunteer to bring their experience and expertise to the table. Hear from some of our Black leaders below and learn about what uplifting Black history and accomplishment means for them and their work.

Jamar Hardy, President Elect

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History is a month to celebrate all that makes our Black communities GREAT! This is something we should do all year long, but it feels most meaningful when we all take a pause to highlight the accomplishments of the black culture during this month.

The 2023 Black History Month theme is Black Resistance: “This is a call to everyone to study the history of Black Americans’ responses to establish safe spaces, where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected.” How does this resonate with your work as a Realtor? In helping to close the homeownership gap?

As a Realtor® & Managing Broker Leader for one of the largest Residential firms in MN, this is something I encounter every day. I’m a champion for more REALTORS of color seeing our industry as a career opportunity. I feel the bar is set low to becoming a REALTOR so one of the biggest challenges falls around feeling welcome. Real Estate in general seems to be a benefit for the majority but not all. If we really lean into Fair Housing, we will seek to make the barriers that exist more equitable. Every potential agent of color I meet, I always let them know “Real Estate needs YOU more then you need Real Estate”…

What would you like people to know about you and/or your work?

I would love for all to know how passionate I feel about our industry and the path it paves for wealth building. When I joined the Real Estate community 20yrs ago I had no idea the impact it would make in so many people’s lives that we touch. I’m a champion for all that want to Imagine becoming a homeowner. I also champion the growth of our industry and hope we continue to make Real Estate FAIR FOR ALL!

Denise Mazone, Immediate Past-President

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month means everything to me!  It is an opportunity to talk about the successes of Black people and our history.  All Black history is not trauma, we also have plenty of successes that need to be shared. It allows anyone that is listening to hear about the barriers that have been broken and to recognize Black Excellence.

The 2023 Black History Month theme is Black Resistance: “This is a call to everyone to study the history of Black Americans’ responses to establish safe spaces, where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected.” How does this resonate with your work as a Realtor? In helping to close the homeownership gap?

In order to know where you are going; you need to know where you’ve been. When you study the history of slavery, Jim Crow and now the mass incarceration it will explain the barriers that are in place in which Blacks were not afforded the opportunity to buy homes. Another form of a discriminatory practice was racially restrictive covenants that were put on homes.  The first one was discovered in 1910 in South Minneapolis. I grew up in South Minneapolis, I feel it is my obligation to bridge the gap of homeownership in the Black community.

What would you like people to know about you and/or your work?

I’m doing my part by teaching first time (generation) homeownership classes once a month and working with these buyers to reach their ultimate dream of becoming a homeowner.  Also, I have recently testified at the state Senate regarding the importance of down payment assistance for everyone, especially the Black community. The late Congressman John Lewis advised, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” I am not afraid to make noise or get in good trouble; it’s so necessary!

Jackie Berry, Director and DEI Committee Chair

 

Amy Michielle Freeman, Director

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History month is a time not only to acknowledge the struggles but equally as important to celebrate the contributions Black Americans have had to making this country what it is today. I have always taken it as an opportunity to be intentional in my study of the history. In recent years, I try to focus on black American inventors and entrepreneurs.

The 2023 Black History Month theme is Black Resistance: “This is a call to everyone to study the history of Black Americans’ responses to establish safe spaces, where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected.” How does this resonate with your work as a Realtor?

A good friend told me about the difficulties his parents had buying their first home in South Minneapolis years ago…hello racial covenants…his mom is still alive, that struck a chord with me…we are GenX-ers…that experience although not in our lifetime…was not so far off in the past. He went on to recount the creative ways they had to circumvent the obstacles put before them. That was the epitome of resistance being necessary for corrective change. In helping to close the homeownership gap? We must respect people’s stories and perceived obstacles, presumed to originate from some inner resistance. I am passionate about helping to close the homeownership gap, but I have realized in my conversations, that it isn’t just about having a down-payment, credit score, etc. A lot of times, for whatever reason, the dream was broken as a real possibility which has manifested into a lack of desire…inner resistance. The amount of ‘No’s I hear people tell themselves, is astonishing…It was only a few years ago I realized, how my own family was an anomaly…all four of my grandparents owned homes…in the 40s and 50s and beyond…that seed was planted in me early, homeownership is possible and necessary…that is a rarity in black families in this country…how can we redirect that inner resistance?

What would you like people to know about you and/or your work?

I love helping people obtain their goals! Encouragement is one of my strongest gifts. I found a good use for being voted “Most likely to become a professional cheerleader” in my high school class. I believe homeownership is achievable for most people if we listen to the stories, discern where any perceived obstacles might be, and come up with a plan to achieve the end goal!

 

Adade Amenounve, MAR Foundation Trustee

What does Black History Month mean to you?

When Julia Lashay interviewed Dr. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., at the Minnesota Realtor® UNITE conference last year, a theme resonated with me. “The importance of leading with love and organizing our strength into a compelling power.” Everything that is built with love as a foundation will always prosper.

The 2023 Black History Month theme is Black Resistance: “This is a call to everyone to study the history of Black Americans’ responses to establish safe spaces where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected.” How does this resonate with your work as a realtor? In helping to close the homeownership gap?

I attended the first broker broadcast of the year, where Susan Dioury, Senior VP of risk management at the Minnesota Association of Realtors®, reminded all Realtors® to practice the golden rule more often in real estate transactions. The leadership at MAR and other trade organizations like NAHREP, NAREB, AARIA, LGBTQ, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, PPL, and Build Wealth are the driving force for education and providing access to financing and DPA to the BIPOC community.

What would you like people to know about you and your work?

I’ve been involved in MN real estate since 2005, but I’m originally from Togo in West Africa and moved to Minneapolis decades ago. After earning my degree from Rasmussen College and a Mini Masters from St. Thomas University, I became part of the first cohort to become a Certified Leader in Affordable Housing at Hamline University’s Education and Leadership center. My passion for housing and homeownership continued to grow, and I eventually was awarded the Minnesota Homeownership Center Above and Beyond Housing Advisor’s Excellence Award in 2018, as well as the Jean Leake Emerging Markets scholarship from MAR. This scholarship is designated for people who are actively working to increase homeownership in communities of color, which is something I care deeply about.

Today, I’m the Broker Owner of United Realty LLC, and have numerous professional involvements: I serve on the Board of Trustees for the MAR Foundation, chair the Global Business Council at MAR, serve on the MAR Government Affairs committee, and serve on the MNR Professional Standards committee. I also collaborate with local non-profit organizations to teach first time homebuyer class to the BIPOC community, as well as volunteering with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, PPL, Urban league Minneapolis, and PRG. I take pride in giving back to my community through education and volunteering. Outside of my professional life, I love spending time with my wife and daughters, cooking, traveling, exercising, and DJing. I am fluent in English, French, and Ewe (West Africa).