The Phone Rang...
…at the beginning of a year that would see life, as we knew it, change forever. It was early 2020, and this company had just launched the new iteration of their family-owned business that January. I picked up the phone because video calls weren’t a thing, yet. And on the other end was a very familiar but new voice. She proceeded to express her need for some marketing help, and I gladly facilitated the unplanned discovery call as a sales rep for a popular trade media outlet. But for some reason, the discussion was different than any I’d had during my time in the fleet world. It was natural. Easy.
Not one to assume, I asked “Are you Black?” And in a direct Southern tone, Karla Jackson of J3 Management Group exclaimed, “Yes, I am.” So, I decided to take another liberty and explain this idea I had:
'Cause see, this was the first time I’d ever spoken with a Black-owned fleet vendor, after having called on thousands of businesses across the globe.
So, I proceeded to share details - for supporting Black people in the Fleet space. I even had a name for it: Black Fleet Network. Then, she responded: her reply was a new genre of music to my ears. She exclaimed, “Yes, you need to do that! And when you do, we’ll put money behind it.” Exhale... I internalized this moment, quietly celebrating the fact that I was not alone - in this Black professional experience, this frustration, and this belief that a best way forward can be created for us and by us. Our discussion continued, and she revealed her family spent 20 years not disclosing the fact that their company was Black-owned, for fear their business would suffer within a highly homogenous industry. Karla's narrative fueled me even further.
A few months later, a Covid-crippled world became exasperated as we became a digital witness to unspeakable injustices. Breonna. George. These latest victims of ultimate disregard were confirmation that America hadn’t progressed as far as she wanted to believe.
No more. It was time to move. My soul shifted from "This just might work" to "We gotta do this!" So, I called Karla back, and she answered. I asked her to carry this burden with me, and she agreed without hesitation. Countless hours. Heavy discussions. Long days. And in March of 2022, Black Fleet Network™ was officially incorporated. A fresh nonprofit was born. The vision was bold, but necessary. Grass roots budded into blades of chatter. Chatter sprouted into a resonant buzz. The notion of a movement caused the ground to swell.
And as we wound down from the 2022 holiday cheer, a Thelonius-like melody strummed across my heartstrings. It was carried on the tune of a $10,000 charitable gift. The donor’s signature belonged to none other than Ms. Lora Dunton: CEO of J3 Management Group; Karla Jackson’s business partner and sister [yep, per DNA]. Wouldn’t you know it. These unyielding and resolute Black women drew from their empathy, their faith, and their hope, to be the first to fund a #mission that they call “necessary.”
BFN is glad to share this story because it's a testament to the loyalty and support that upholds our community and motivates progress. Here’s to you, Karla Jackson and Lora Dunton! Black Fleet Network™ is blessed to have you as its first partners. You epitomize what it means to support your community | your people. You reflect the best of this industry and of humanity. Thank you being present!
J3 Management Group is a leading title and registration management company providing turnkey service to fleets across the U.S. They are a #Blackowned, #womanowned business driving the industry forward through customer-centricity, innovation enhancement, and community advancement. To learn more or to request their services, visit them at www.j3mgmtgroup.com.