African-American Chamber Doing Good by Embracing History & Cultural Identity

I attended the Capital City African-American Chamber’s 25th Anniversary Luncheon a few weeks ago. I wanted to write about it, not so much to tell you about the event but more about the experience. From the beginning, it made me feel good inside. They kicked it off with a great singer, Ms. Judy Arnold who blew everyone away with her rendition of the National Anthem & the African-American National Anthem and an invocation by Reverend Joseph C. Parker from David Chapel Baptist Church. What a great way to start the celebration of African-American contributions to the Greater Austin community! There was a feeling of community, of camaraderie and a true respect for the history of the chamber and those that helped build it. The program included founding board members, past executive directors and a transition to the future with the current President, Dr. Chiquita W. Eugene. My favorite parts were the history, stories and lessons, all combined together. I’m a strong believer that before we move forward, we must look back and learn from our past.

And speaking of the next wave of leaders….I’ve had the opportunity to work with Arron Brooks, Membership & Tourism Manager at the Chamber. Arron is a great person to work with and I wanted get to know him a little more. I asked him a few questions about his work, the chamber and a glimpse into the importance of culture. Here’s what he had to say…..

Tell me about yourself and what you do?
I’m one of the newest additions to the Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce (CCAACC). I joined the staff after graduating from UT at San Antonio in December 2006. My position at the Chamber is Membership and Tourism Manager. In that role, I recruit and retain membership for the Chamber; and organize all of the Monthly Membership Luncheons and Mixers.

I also oversee the Chamber’s Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau Contract. I work with them to bring minority tourist to the city. These groups range in size from small family reunions to large organizations that host annual conferences.

What is the mission of the Cap City Chamber?
The Capital City African-American Chamber of Commerce (CCAACC) promotes the development of African American businesses and the expansion of the business community by providing resources, technical assistance, and leadership on policy issues that enhance economic growth and by promoting convention and tourism.

What makes you different than the other chambers?
I believe the biggest difference is the passion that our Chamber has in serving our members. Our staff is committed to working with the entire small business community of Austin to help make sure that their needs are met. I often tell our members that anytime they have a question please call me, and if I don’t know the answer I’ll find it out for you. Our desire to see not only the minority business community succeed but all businesses in this area is very apparent in the programs and services we offer.

I noticed you started the event with the National and AA National Anthem. Can you talk about the importance of sharing this type of experience with your members?
Having both the Nation and AA National Anthem signifies that as a race we have pride not only in our country, but in our culture as well. I think that while America is described as a mixing bowl of cultures, it’s really a big mixed salad. It’s important to remember our various cultures because it brings uniqueness to our country.

What’s next for the Chamber?
In the upcoming year you can look forward to increased and more specialized training. In developing our programs for next year, we listened to our members to realize their needs. By doing this are able to have services that will meet their needs. In 2008 we’re parting with US Small Business Administration to offer exciting classes. We also continue to grow our partnerships with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Austin Asian American Chamber of Commerce.

Any additional comments
If anyone would like more information about the Chamber, they can visit us online at or contact me phone at (512) 459-1181 x202.

As you can tell I value culture and believe it is important that we honor it as a society. What do you think? How do you keep your culture alive in your life?

Director, Hands On Central Texas

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