Congress held a candlelight vigil on the steps on the U.S. Capitol Tuesday evening in honor of the Americans who have died from the coronavirus.
I am the FIRST
A driver in a pickup truck hit spectators at a Pride festival in Wilton Manors, Florida, killing at least one person and wounding two others Saturday, according to Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, per the SunSentinel.
The big picture: The incident at the Wilton Manors Stonewall Parade and Festival was one of two involving a pickup truck hitting a crowd on Saturday, with several cyclists left critically wounded in Arizona.
What's happening: In Wilton Manors, festival organizers canceled the LGBTQ event following a report about 7 p.m. local time that the truck had "crossed multiple lanes, striking multiple people," according to the SunSentinel.
- Trantalis said police had "apprehended the driver, 7News Miami reports.
In Show Low, Arizona, a pickup truck driver "plowed into bicyclists during a community road race," leaving several riders critically injured, AP notes.
- The driver was shot by police at a nearby hardware store and was in a "stable but critical condition, per AP.
Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.
Demonstrators took to the streets in at least 22 of Brazil’s 26 states to protest President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic — as COVID-19 cases surged past 500,000 on Saturday, per AP.
The big picture: Brazil has the world's second-highest coronavirus death toll and third-highest number of cases. Only 12% of the country's population has been vaccinated against the virus, AP notes.
Major companies have said in recent job postings that Colorado residents are ineligible to apply for certain remote positions because a new state law requires businesses to disclose the expected salary or pay range for positions, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Why it matters: The law, which went into effect in January, is meant to help close the gender wage gap and to promote wage transparency for employees, but companies have said Coloradans need not apply to avoid disclosing the information.
- Johnson & Johnson, CBRE, McKesson and Cardinal Health are among businesses that have added such caveats in recent online listings for remote positions, according to the Journal.
The big picture: Businesses have argued that the wage disclosure law is overly burdensome for employers, while the state's labor department is investigating complaints of postings excluding Coloradans.
- Colorado residents can still apply for the positions, but it's unknown if companies would actually consider them as candidates.
Go deeper: Nudging our way to better remote work
People across the country are celebrating Juneteenth National Independence Day.
The big picture: The date, June 19, memorializes when some of the last enslaved people in Texas learned about their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865.
- President Biden on Thursday signed into law legislation making Juneteenth the newest federal holiday.
- Many Americans have annually commemorated the anniversary long before the official recognition.
When a bank turned down George Johnson for a business loan, he got creative. He returned and told the bank he needed $250 to take his wife on a vacation — and was approved. Then he invested the cash in his business, which became the first Black enterprise to trade on the American Stock Exchange.
Why it matters: The highways to success in the U.S. market economy — in entrepreneurship, corporate leadership and wealth creation — are often punctuated with roadblocks and winding detours for people of color.
The story of how Johnson created his namesake company exemplifies the barriers Black Americans face in building a business decades after slavery and Jim Crow laws.
- Born in a three-room sharecropper's shack in Mississippi, Johnson dropped out of high school and worked as a door-to-door cosmetics salesman.
- Johnson and his wife Joan used their "vacation loan" and another $250 loan from a friend to create a hair relaxer for men in the 1950s, then promoted their products in Black-0wned magazines and newspapers.
- Eventually, the personal care products company vastly expanded after advertising on "Soul Train," the American music-dance television program created by Don Cornelius, another Black risk-taker.
But the Johnson company's rise relied on the couple outsmarting a banker and finding other Black-owned businesses to promote their products, highlighting the discrimination in banking and the systemic barriers they had to navigate to access capital and markets.
Despite a jarring racial wealth gap, there are many examples of successful Black, Latino, Asian and Native Americans in business. Lesser known are the systemic roadblocks that these communities and businesses face.
McDonald's became one of the greatest generators of Black wealth in America, historian Marcia Chatelain wrote in "Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America."
- The chain sought Black franchise owners after 1968, provided jobs in impoverished areas, and sponsored Black Little League teams and gospel choir events.
- But the proliferation of fast-food restaurants in communities of color gave rise to obesity and diabetes and added to health care costs.
- A group of Black franchise owners last year accused McDonald’s of racial discrimination for steering them to underperforming stores. Last Tuesday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by the owners.
In cities across the U.S., local Black business communities have been demolished in the name of “urban renewal.”
- In the Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia, the turn of the 20th century gave rise to "the birthplace of Black capitalism." But laws creating the Jim Crow South and construction of Interstate-95 through the area destroyed those thriving enterprises.
- On Chicago's Maxwell Street, a flourishing Mexican American business community and hub for the area's diverse immigrant culture was mostly demolished over decades to make way for the expansion of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
- In New Orleans and Kansas City, a cohort of mostly white bureaucrats saw nonwhite areas, with cheaper land and less solidified political opposition, as fit for demolition, following a national playbook that ran "urban renewal" construction.
The bottom line: The U.S. provides economic opportunities for all Americans through entrepreneurship, professional achievement and investments. But for nonwhite Americans, systemic barriers remain an obstacle to creating wealth.
Ride-hailing service The Drivers Cooperative recently debuted in New York City, claiming that its lack of VC funding would result in better driver pay and lower passenger costs.
Why it matters: TDC’s approach is a direct rebuke to the venture capital-fueled gig economy model.
- The current shortage of ride-hailing drivers also hints that some may be rethinking whether the job meets their needs at all.
Details: The organization is incorporated as a “worker cooperative corporation” and currently lets every signed-up driver enroll as a member of the co-op, which means receiving one share in the company and one shareholder vote.
- The co-op takes a 15% cut of rides (compared to Uber and Lyft’s roughly 20%) to fund its operations, and any leftovers at the end of the year will go back to drivers via profit-sharing.
- The company says its drivers currently make on average about 30% more than they would driving for Uber or Lyft, and that riders pay slightly less.
The big picture: A number of companies have tried (and often failed) to reform the model popularized by Uber and Lyft, including:
- Juno: The NYC-born startup promised it would give drivers equity in its company. It eventually sold to U.K.-based Gett and backtracked on its equity promise because regulators wouldn’t allow it.
- Austin’s indies: A crop of upstarts, including a nonprofit and a Facebook group matching drivers and riders, emerged in Austin a few years ago when Uber and Lyft ceased operating for a year.
- Dumpling: The startup, which charges drivers a monthly fee for using its app instead of taking a cut from each transaction, recently expanded into ride-hailing after getting its start in grocery delivery. Unfortunately, it’s reportedly also run afoul of some workers with changes made to its apps.
Between the lines: “We’re actually selling things for the price that they cost,” says TDC co-founder Erik Forman, adding that Uber and Lyft’s lack of profits are a sign that their approach isn’t actually working.
- The argument for the venture-backed model has been that it takes a lot of upfront capital to set up operations and grow very quickly to capture market share and compete with rivals.
- That’s also meant price wars on all fronts — including price cuts for riders and earnings bumps for drivers — which has mostly been financed by venture capital for the first several years of a company’s life.
- TDC has only raised about $300,000 via mostly debt and is preparing to raise just over $1 million.
And it’s not the only one to take this approach. Driver’s Seat, an app for drivers to collect and analyze data about their hours and earnings, is also set up as a cooperative. While free for drivers, it sells access to aggregate data and insights to municipalities.
- Co-founder Hays Witt says the aim is to give drivers back some ownership and control over their work data.
Yes, but: It remains to be seen how a smaller, local upstart can fare in the face of multibillion-dollar public companies that are already household names.
- While its brand can certainly appeal to many drivers’ and passengers’ sense of using a more “ethical” service, some will undoubtedly prefer convenience or sticking with the familiar.
- And while Forman sees the technology as a commodity, companies like Uber and Lyft spend tremendous resources on developing, maintaining and fine-tuning their apps to keep drivers and riders happy.
The bottom line: Uber and Lyft proved there’s a market for smartphone-enabled urban transportation — but the quest to meet that demand via a radically different approach to business is ongoing.
Hardliner Ebrahim Raisi easily won Friday's presidential election in Iran, recording 62% of the vote with more than 90% of ballots counted.
Why it matters: Currently the head of Iran's judiciary, Raisi is a close confidant of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and has the support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). His victory solidifies him as a leading candidate to succeed Khamenei, though Friday's low turnout speaks to the disillusionment of many Iranian voters.
- A U.S. official told Axios on Friday that the Biden administration wants to finalize an agreement with Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal before Raisi takes power six weeks from now.
Driving the news: Turnout was just under 50% according to Iranian media reports, much lower than in previous elections. The polls were kept open for an additional two hours to drive that number up.
- Iran's Guardian Council had disqualified all of the leading reformist candidates, essentially clearing the field for Raisi.
- Former central bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati attempted to take up the reformist mantle, but he reportedly finished a distant second with only around 2.5 million votes (9%) vs. 18 million for Raisi.
What's next: Raisi is expected to be sworn in during the first week of August.
Juneteenth, a once-obscure commemoration of emancipation of enslaved people in Texas, has transformed into an annual reminder about how slavery robbed Black Americans of generational wealth.
Why it matters: That lack of generational wealth still denies Black families the economic security that many white families take for granted.
- The ongoing disparities can be directly linked to the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, says Shawn Rochester, author of The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America.
By the numbers: Around $50 trillion of economic resources and labor has not been paid to Black people since slavery, Rochester told Axios. Advocates say this legacy of slavery must be addressed to tackle systemic racism.
- By the end of 2020, the homeownership rate for Black families stood around 44%, compared with 75% for white families, U.S. Census numbers showed.
- A Washington Post analysis found that a typical middle-class black household had $13,024 in wealth, compared to $149,703 for the median white household in 2016 — a larger percentage gap than in 1968.
- Black households had $8,762 in cash or equivalent liquid assets, compared with $49,529 for white households in 2016, an Economic Policy Institute analysis of government data found.
Context: In the 1800s, the U.S. became an economic power because of the use of enslaved labor in the growing cotton industry.
- Enslaved Black people built the Capitol building, the White House, roads and infrastructure, and various universities across the country with little to no compensation.
- The selling of enslaved people also financed universities like Georgetown.
- By 1860, the value of the enslaved people was “roughly three times greater than the total amount invested in banks,” and it was “equal to about seven times the total value of all currency in circulation in the country," Steven Deyle wrote in Carry Me Back: The Domestic Slave Trade in American Life.
Right before emancipation, Black Americans — free and enslaved — owned only one-half of 1% of the national wealth.
- In the decades after slavery, Black Americans were often banned from buying property, limited in pursuing legal claims, prevented from voting, and banished to segregated schools.
- Successful Black businesses thrived in enclaves like Tulsa, Okla., and East St. Louis, Ill., only to be destroyed by white mobs. Those business owners that had insured their enterprises were unable to collect on their premiums.
Driving the news: The death of George Floyd last year forced a national reckoning on social justice, and this year more Juneteenth events are coinciding with forums on how the nation financially benefited from enslaved Black lives, and how the labor of all people of color came to valued less than their white counterparts.
- The Movement for Black Lives is using Juneteenth celebrations to discuss reparations as a means to build wealth andaddress racial disparities in education, housing, and business ownership.
- Georgetown Law School's Institute of International Economic Law and the Black Economic Alliance hosted members of Congress this week at a Juneteenth forum on including Black Americans in the digital economy.
- And the McKinsey Global Institute and the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility this week released a report that detailed Black economic participation in the U.S. economy and disparities that remain after generations of exclusion.
The intrigue: A focus on the economic effects of slavery and segregation comes as Republican-controlled legislatures are passing bills that prohibit schools from studying systemic racism as part of the U.S. legal framework, an area known ascritical race theory.
Don't forget: For years, Juneteenth has been celebrated in Houston and Galveston, Texas, to commemorate General Order No. 3, issued by U.S. Major General Gordon Granger a month after the formal end ofthe Civil War.
- Galveston one of the last places in the U.S. where enslaved people learned of their emancipation.