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In a recent article for American Banker titled Lessons from Baltimore: ‘Middle-Class Folks Don’t Riot,’ John Hope Bryant, President and CEO of Operation Hope, wrote:

“Our goal as a society should be to bring economic opportunity to these neighborhoods. That starts with financial education and ends with making free enterprise work for all.”

Bryant joined Roland Martin Wednesday on NewsOne Now to discuss what can be done to bring economic opportunity to our underserved neighborhoods and explained the root cause of recent social unrest is, in fact, poverty. 

“It’s not like we got the memo on free enterprise and screwed it up … we never got the memo,” Bryant told Martin during the discussion.

In order to start moving our communities forward Bryant said, “we need to focus on small businesses and entrepreneurship to set ourselves free.” He added, “If you can’t get a job, create a job.”

Bryant’s Operation Hope is looking to expand in Baltimore and has opened nearly 100 offices around the country over the past year to help assist in its organizational goal of making free enterprise work for everyone through “silver rights empowerment.”

A statement on explains how the organization works to achieve this goal:

“We accomplish this through our work on the ground as the nonprofit private banker for the working poor, the underserved, and struggling middle class. We achieve our mission by being the best-in-class provider of financial literacy empowerment for youth, financial capability for communities, and ultimately, financial dignity for all.”

Bryant made an extremely profound assertion during his appearance on NewOne Now when he said, “Nothing changes your life more than God or love than moving your credit score 120 points.”

He continued explaining this theory, saying the neighborhoods that are the most adversely impacted by poverty are riddled with check cashing operations, payday loan businesses, rent to own establishments, title lenders, and liquor stores.

Bryant equated this it to “modern day slavery.” He added, “it is not race based … this happens in rural White neighborhoods and outside of military bases.”

“They are targeting a 500 credit score customer.”

Watch Martin and Bryant, President and CEO of Operation Hope, discuss the root causes of social unrest in impoverished communities and the solutions to reverse the trend in the video clip above.

For more information about Operation Hope, visit

Be sure to watch “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin, weekdays at 9 a.m. EST on TV One.

Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.


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John Hope Bryant Says Middle-Class Folks Don’t Riot, Poverty Incites Social Unrest  was originally published on