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National Black Chamber Commerce champion dies


Harry C. Alford passed away Dec. 6

Harry C. Alford, president/CEO and co-founder of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), passed away Dec. 6, in Washington, DC. He was preceded in death by his wife, Kay DeBow, vice president and co-founder of the Chamber five months ago.

In 1993, Alford moved the newly established National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) from Indianapolis, Ind. to Washington, DC. The first Board Chairman was the former Assistant Secretary of Labor, Dr. Arthur Fletcher, the “Father of Affirmative Action.” Most of the existing Black Chambers derived from Harry’s initiatives and influence over the years.

Today, the National Black Chamber is the largest Black business organization in the world, consisting of regional organizations of Black Chambers in the United States, eight countries in Africa, 11 membership Chambers in the Caribbean and five-member Black Chambers in Central and South America. Black Chambers were also established in London and Paris under Alford’s leadership. In addition to coordinating this global operation, Alford spoke before Congress on behalf of Black business, several times a month. For many years, he served on the Board of Directors of the most influential Chamber in America, the United States Chamber of Commerce.

“Today the lessons learned and visioning processes that Harry and Kay brought to fruition are responsible for tens of billions of dollars in small business inclusion programming which are now the basis for every disaster relief program,” said Arnold Baker, President Baker Ready Mix, LLC. “They not only made history in New Orleans but designed the base principles for recovery programs now implemented across the globe.”

Members of the NBCC Board of Directors including Fred Jordan, NBCC’s outstanding member of San Francisco and Oakland, representing the west coast, said that the future of NBCC is bright and presently Charles H. DeBow, III is executive director and had served previously as vice president of global development and programs.

“Harry Alford was the Godfather of Black Chambers in the United States and from his Washington, DC headquarters, gave Black business a seat at the table for over 28 years,” NBCC Board Chairman and President of the Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce, Larry Ivory, stated. “Harry and Kay’s legacy will live on as we continue moving the National Black Chamber of Commerce’s agenda forward.”