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Long Beach seminar offers tips on financial empowerment for African-Americans

Keith Burgess speaks about financial empowerment at the

Keith Burgess speaks about financial empowerment at the STW Advocacy for at Risk Youth, Inc. in Long Beach on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Long Island's African-American community heard tips at a seminar Saturday on how to create wealth that can be passed down from generation to generation and tapped for emergencies.

About 70 residents, community, business and church leaders heard of the need for financial empowerment for black families at the gathering at the Christian Light Missionary Baptist Church in Long Beach.

Whites on average had two times the income of blacks and Hispanics in 2010, but six times the wealth, according to the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based social and economic policy research group.

To address financial disparities, STW Advocacy for at Risk Youth Inc. in partnership with three Island churches hosted the event.

Life insurance can protect families and provide tax-free loans for college, down payments for homes and other expenses, said keynote speaker Eugene Mitchell, corporate vice president and manager of the African American Market Unit for New York Life Insurance Co.

"This is about understanding the tools for creating wealth," Mitchell said, adding that African-Americans in the U.S. have a purchasing power of $1 trillion.

Wealth can be obtained through assets such as life insurance policies, home equity, pension funds, savings accounts and investments, Mitchell said.

"We think about today and what we want now, while tomorrow is on the back burner," said Ronnie Myles, 34, of Long Beach, a teaching assistant who was at the meeting. "We have to change how we look at creating a legacy."

Delores Miller, pastor of Evangel Revival Community Church in Long Beach, said she followed her parents' steps and bought life insurance policies, which she in turn cashed in to help pay for her granddaughter's first car and her grandson's college.

"You're not only to get insurance for yourself, but for your children," Miller said.

Keith H. Burgess, chief executive of the Dollicia F. Holloway Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit educational group, said he organized fundraisers to help bury his cousin, who was killed by her estranged husband in February 2013 and didn't have life insurance. "It's one thing to have assurance, but in this life we need insurance," Burgess said.

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