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Bet On Black: Self-Made Larry Morrow Built A Career Out Of Building Relationships

#xoMan

Less than a decade ago, Larry Morrow stood empty and hopeless in a New Orleans casino.


He had just lost $30,000 on a failed bet and was left only with his stifled pride and hurt ego when he decided that it was time to invest his money in a more lucrative gamble.

The author of the recently released book, All Bets On Me: The Risks and Rewards Of Becoming an Entrepreneur, has earned acclaim as one of the most prominent event curators in the nation, all with the help of an idea that was born the night he lost everything.

Now, the young gambler's rolodex is stocked with some of the industry's biggest names, but his story started behind the barbershop of a childhood friend. "I grew up right there in the 7th ward," he said. "Growing up, me and my friends would shoot dice as one of our hobbies. It kept us out of trouble. At my friend's dad's barbershop, just gambling all day and having fun. That kind of helped mold and grow who I am today."

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He continued, "I became numb to gambling at an early age because I learned the value of a dollar at an early age. When I lost my first dollar, it hurt. But the moment I lost it, my immune system grew. I was able to gamble more and lose more and it [did] not affect me as much."

Larry learned at an early age that big risk equals huge reward. "Risks are something I have to take. It's something that motivates me and drives me to keep going. Never knowing what the outcome may be, but hoping the outcome will be what you want it to be."

Little did he know, his innate ability to develop relationships and his affinity for risk-taking would later allow him to build a model for entrepreneurship unlike one that the business world has ever seen. After losing his entire savings in the Casino one night, Larry shifted his business model and began investing in bringing local talent to New Orleans for curated events. His roster of guests included entertainers that were well above local standard, and over time, his knack for relationship building earned him a permanent spot in Black Hollywood and the title of "King" in his city.

Along with his newly released book, Larry also recently opened a restaurant with his mother that gained the attention of Forbes and has already hosted a number of guests including Teyana Taylor, Drake, and the cast of Power.

His goal is to offer a positive role model of a black man as an entrepreneur and prove that success doesn't really have a job description. He said, "I want to be able to inspire people and encourage people to love what they do. I think some people are still living in that old American dream that you have to get that piece of paper to be successful. There's athletes, there's doctors, rappers, actors, but when you think of an entrepreneur, it doesn't sound like an ideal job title."

"I've been writing my own checks for the past 7 years, and that's not easy. Sometimes it's not knowing where you're going but just knowing you have work to do."

xoNecole got a chance to sit down with the 27-year-old New Orleanian to talk more about how he built a stable career out of simply betting everything on himself.

I read a lot about how risk propelled your career forward, as well as relationships. I see you built an empire out of just being able to develop valuable partnerships. How important has reputation been during the progression of your career?

Throughout my journey it meant so much because it makes working with others a lot easier when you have a reputation for doing A1 business. That helped me grow. It's dope that people can speak highly of what you do. I always tell people it's not really the money, it's more about the relationships. The money is just an extra piece, but relationships are something you can grow from, and not just financially.

What's the biggest lesson you've learned about relationship building throughout your career?

Not abusing those relationships. A lot of people get in relationships and they automatically reach out and try and see what's in store for them. People come to the table looking to see what's for them, but my approach is different. I bring the table to the table, and then I discuss being fruitful. I never came to the table with my hand out. To build a relationship, you have to build organically and not look for anything from each other, just let it happen. If we all benefit each other some way in the future, that's fine too. But never come to the table looking for anything.

Switching gears, what do you think it was that drew you to your partner?

The fact that she wasn't available to anyone. She was somebody who kept herself exclusive. I tell her mom all the time she did a great job raising her kids. Our first year talking, it wasn't based on sex. She made me wait over a year for us to have any sexual intercourse. And that alone said a lot to me, but it also made me realize it's also not all about sex. It allowed us to bond and get to know each other in that year.

"It was a challenge and it was something different for me and I'm up for the challenge."

How do you balance your relationship despite your chaotic work life?

It's a challenge, but I'm blessed to have a woman that understands my life. Work for me is on my phone, on the go, creating things. Being an entrepreneur is a nonstop grind but she handles it well and is in tune with my vision. I dream so big, I shoot for the stars. I'm so passionate about life and the things I want to do for my family.

It would be impossible to be in a relationship with someone who didn't get it or I wasn't compatible with or someone who didn't trust me because I spend a lot of hours working. Empathy, compatibility and trust help keep us balanced.

What solutions or tips do you have for couples that may have chaotic schedules?

Whenever you decide to be with somebody, make sure you're with somebody that understands your work life. Understand your partner, understand their dreams and aspirations.

Has relationship building in business been as easy in your romantic life as it has been in your career?

No it ain't been that easy. When you're dealing with somebody on a day-to-day basis, maintaining relationships is the hardest part. In the business world, that has been easy but it's a little bit different when you're building with your girl. Let me simplify it, it's not as easy and I don't think it should be as easy. It's definitely a challenge, but I enjoy a challenge, and I'm up for it.

Keep up with Larry on Instagram by clicking here.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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