Building bridges of understanding with Utah Black Chamber of Commerce

Utah Success Stories

By Douglas Jessop, ABC4 News

“We need to get in the position to where we are listening to understand instead of listening to respond.” Those are some pretty wise words, my friends.  I’m not the one that said them first, but I am certainly going to pass along the quote from my extended interview with James Jackson III.  (YES – CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LONGER INTERVIEW)

Jackson continued by telling me; “This something I’ve been preaching about for the last month. I’ve been talking to a bunch of companies and organizations and even a few police departments.”

I’m a big fan of stories, metaphors, parables…whatever you want to call them to help illustrate a point. Imagine a group of people separated by a body of water. They keep trying to talk to other group and people gets bits and pieces of the conversation. But let’s face it, you are not getting the whole story. Got that image in your mind?

Jackson filled in the rest of the story by saying; “The more that we understand the more that bridge starts to come down. And when that bridge comes down, you are going to find this ground that I like to call common ground. Where we can come together, share both of our perspectives still. But find the good out of each of those perspectives and out of those perspectives we can find solutions.”

Jackson is the Founder and President of an organization called the Black Chamber of Commerce. I asked him to explain the need and purpose of the business group.  He told me; “Some people think the Black Chamber of Commerce is siloed. That were kind of trying to only build our own. But our goal is to build that bridge. We are trying to bring that bridge down.”

A number of Utah companies are walking across that bridge, including Zions Bank, the Utah Jazz, and more.  The Black Chamber of Commerce recently partnered with Podium to create a platform to connect consumers and black-owned businesses. That platform has created a website that can found at

I asked Jackson what kind of questions his organization gets. He smiled and replied; “We’ll get phone calls or emails every now and then from about a black professional coming in because of a new opportunity because our economy is so great. “So tell me. Am I going to be okay? What are the Mormons like?” We get these fascinating type questions. Once you get here, you’ll see that yes, we are a welcoming state. “

I personally invite you to watch “Utah Success Stories” every Sunday in the ABC4 News at 10 p.m. or online at

Please consider following me at, ,, and

Doug Jessop
For Doug Jessop, it all started with a cassette recorder he got for Christmas when he was 12 years old growing up in Southern California. Doug interviewed relatives, friends and anyone else that might have a good story. You can follow Doug at, on, and @DougJessopNews on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah Coronavirus

More Coronavirus Updates


More In Focus

Justice Files

More Justice Files

Trending Stories