Story by ALYSHA NEMESCHY
Born and raised in Utah, James Jackson III was the only black person
in his school until he reached the fifth grade. When he reached high
school, Jackson was one of about a dozen black students.
Jackson said that Utah’s significant lack of diversity makes him
excited to see new black people in the community. He said there are
very few unfamiliar African American faces in the state.
Recognizing this diversity gap at a young age, he chose to make a
difference in Salt Lake City by launching a business called ACCEL,
African-Americans Advancing in Commerce, Community, Education and
The idea of such an organization began in late 2005. Angel Bumpers, an
African American who had recently started her own business, Beyond
Beautiful, realized that there was no black chamber of commerce to
assist her in her business journey.
After starting Beyond Beautiful, Bumpers became one of the original
founders of the Utah Black Chamber of Commerce, hoping to help other
Bumpers was in her mid-20s when the chamber was founded. She said
many people thought she was too young to take on the responsibility.
Due to this, she said she was forced to step down from her position.
She chose to resign from the chamber altogether.
Jackson, also a co-founder of the chamber, said that by 2008, the
organization seemed to have stalled.
He established and founded ACCEL in 2009 as a place for the black
community to come together, network with each other and recognize
other black Utah business owners.
According to ACCEL’s website, the majority of Utah is unaware of
black-owned businesses in the state due to “lack of exposure and
support of the community.” If the black community came together for
this one purpose, “a powerful synergistic organization would be
created to stimulate and excite the black marketplace.”
According to the US Census Bureau, there has been a small increase of
black people in Utah over the last four years. Jackson attributes
this growth to Utah’s overall growth and the growth of the economy
itself. With ACCEL, the increased amounts of African Americans in the
state have a place to turn when they are in need of help with business
Jackson said some of the black-owned businesses in Utah include
catering companies, barbershops, physical therapy offices, moving
companies, network marketing companies and many more.
Although there are many black-owned businesses in the state, Bumpers,
owner of one of the longest-run black-owned businesses in Utah, said
Utah is still falling far behind the rest of America in regards to
minority-owned business exposure. She believes this is due to a lack
of knowledge, lack of communication and lack of support.
Jackson hopes to overcome these obstacles by sharing details about
ACCEL and how it can help individuals who are interested in starting
Providing these things to the community requires support from others.
ACCEL has built up a large array of supporters including Zion’s Bank,
Budweiser and PepsiCo, who all provide donations to the organization.
Jackson said these organizations are passionate about being involved
with diverse organizations.
Having the support of others gives Jackson the opportunity to do what
he loves — educate others. With ACCEL, Jackson is able to do exactly
Jackson focuses on the strange paradox of Utah having a strong economy
yet a lacking educational system. Through ACCEL he hopes to improve
education for the youth of Utah by offering seminars, networking
events and scholarships.
By helping other business owners and educating the youth, an important
part of his journey through ACCEL is to “remain humble and
never be afraid to ask questions,” Jackson said. “You learn more when you’re humble
rather than prideful.”