Boston, Kelvin E. 1955(?)–
Kelvin E. Boston 1955(?)–
Television host, author
Personal-finance expert Kelvin E. Boston is the host of a syndicated financial-advice program aimed at African American audiences. Since 1991, The Color of Money ; has aired on several dozen public television stations, and Boston has become a leading financial guru in a field seemingly glutted with the type. Yet Boston’s approach, which he describes fully in his 1996 book Smart Money Moves for African-Americans, is termed a “holistic” one: a wealth-creation strategy that takes into account African American attitudes about money, spending, and saving. “Have you been taught to live a life of poverty or prosperity?” Boston posits in his book. “A lot of us are taught that to be righteous is to be poor, and a lot of us take it literally.”
Born in the mid-1950s, Boston grew up in a public-housing project in Wilmington, Delaware; he returned to the area after earning a degree in English literature from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Back in Wilmington, he worked for an agency that helped first-time home buyers. In the early 1980s, he relocated to the Toledo, Ohio area, where he worked as a financial advisor at for IDS\American Express Financial Services. By the late 1980s, he had moved an hour north, to Detroit, where he became involved in a number of ventures. He served as president of PolarisCommunications, which in the early 1990s was involved in an effort to save an empty downtown Detroit department store from demolition; the plans by Boston and his partners to create a hotel complex for the multistory building were one of many failed attempts by various investor groups to rescue the landmark building.
Boston also created Boston Media, a Detroit company, and served as director of Calvert New Africa Mutual Fund, which boasted 8.3 million in assets invested in African companies or with foreign firms doing business there. With a partner, he purchased Corporate Detroit, a successful local magazine, and ran that for some time. His syndicated television show, The Color of Money, was launched in 1991. It aired on Black Entertainment Network (BET) and then began to be picked up by an increasing number of public television stations. Boston said that he realized the potential for financial advising services targeted to the African American community through his work for IDS; furthermore, the proliferation of money-management advice programs that began airing during this era seemed, to Boston, to lack a crucial element. “Millions of middle-income Americans, especially minorities, weren’t getting what they needed from these shows,” he said in an interview with Success magazine—“sound financial advice and inspiration. I decided to give them that. I knew the power of a dollar and a dream.”
Boston’s approach is one that he describes as “holistic,” or taking into account cultural attitudes and esteem issues. He recalled that once, as a financial advisor, a client of his with children to support had come into a sum of insurance money after her husband died. He urged her to invest it soundly, which she did for a time, but then began to convert the investments back into cash. “It wasn’t until she cashed in her last investment that I realized what was going on—the money made her uncomfortable,” Boston explained in the interview with Success. “Before her husband’s passing, she was
Born c. 1955, in Wilmington, DE. Education: Lincoln University, B.A.
Career: Co-founder of a housing counseling service in Wilmington, DE; IDS\American Express Financial Services, Toledo, OH, financial advisor, c. early 1980s; Polaros Communications, Detroit, MI, president; Boston Media, Detroit, president; Calvert New AfricaMutual Fund, director; Corporate Detroit magazine, Detroit, co-owner until 1995; The Color of Money (syndicated television program), host 1991-.
Addresses: Office—Boston Media, Inc., 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit MI 48202–3016.
used to living from paycheck to paycheck …. At that moment, I knew I had a new mission: to help my clients understand and correct their attitudes toward wealth.”
In 1996, Boston wrote his first book, Smart Money Moves for African-Americans, published by Putnam. In it, he sets forth many of the ideas and strategies from The Color of Money episodes, but in far greater detail. Early chapters discuss the economic history of African Americans, and how the past has shaped present attitudes. Before the omnibus U.S. civil rights legislation in 1964, for instance, equal employment and pay opportunities were not the law of the land, and as a result, blacks often earned far less money than their white co-workers; furthermore, they rarely attained a job level that offered solid retirement benefit plans.
Boston also points out the great disparities in present-day saving and investing statistics between black and white Americans: the average net worth among African Americans is 11,000, while for whites, it is 51,000; interest income averages also vary dramatically: 872 versus 7,308 annually. “Businesses finally respect African American purchasing power, but not our economic clout.” Boston told Detroit Free Press reporter Rachel Konrad. “We have little net worth in banks, mutual funds, real estate and businesses. As America’s No. 1 minority, we have the opportunity to put our financial house in order.”
In Smart Money Moves, Boston critiques the institutions that have shaped a role in the success of African-Americans: the church, the civil rights movement, and the public-school system. These three, he argues, have not educated blacks about how to create wealth, or why creating wealth is so vital to the achievements of the group as a whole. “]M]any of us can’t name one black entrepreneur or millionaire,” he told Konrad in the Detroit Free Press interview. “By not knowing who our financial heroes are, we tell others that we don’t have any.”
Smart Money Moves features chapters that explore such topics as making a budget, how to buy a car, the pitfalls of home mortgages, how start a business, investing in the stock market, and planning for retirement. Boston shows how careful strategies can help households with an income of just 30,000 considerably improve their balance sheet. He counsels readers to avoid credit-card debt, and advocates a plan he calls “The Power of 10”—investing ten percent of one’s income in opportunities likely to bring a 10 percent return for ten years. He discusses the paucity of African American entrepreneurs, and urges readers to consider working for themselves as the ultimate achievement of financial—and personal—freedom. An appendix guide lists further sources for guidance, including minority-owned CPA firms and mutual funds. “He has a special chapter for women and ends with an inspiration admonishment that spiritual, physical, intellectual, and financial success all go hand in hand,” remarked a Booklist review by David Rouse.
Smart Money Moves for African Americans, foreword by Dennis Kimbro, Putnam, 1996.
Black Enterprise, March 1996, p. 49.
Booklist, January 1, 1996, p. 765; February 15, 1996, p. 972.
Detroit Free Press, January 3, 1996, p. 1E.
Detroit News, January 21, 1996, p. 1A.
Essence, March, 1996, p. 38.
New York Times, February 18, 1996, p. F7.
Success, November 1993, p. 32.
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