By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
Bob Wallace made quite a political splash running as an Independent for Mayor of Baltimore in 2020.
In the general election Wallace garnered almost 50 thousand votes, a seemingly implausible number for a person running as an Independent in this overwhelmingly Democratic city.
Many believe the success of this political novice was directly linked to his much ballyhooed business acumen and his message of economic development and inclusion.
The sermon he preaches the most regarding wealth creation originates from the foundation that he built his multi-million dollar companies upon, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Wallace, who grew up in an impoverished housing project in Cherry Hill, also graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic High School, a pioneering STEM high school in 1974. After he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from Dartmouth College, Wallace went on to start three companies: BITHGROUP Technologies Inc., a cybersecurity and IT services provider; Bithenergy, Inc., an energy services and technology company; and through Robert Wallace Media, which includes RobertWallace.com and Entre Teach Learning Systems LLC, which provides web-based training for women and business owners of color.
When he was campaigning to be the next mayor of Baltimore Wallace promised the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs in the city, which he said would “impact all the social issues that we face– the concentration of poverty, the social dysfunction. If you peel back the onion, most of it ties back to economics,” Wallace said.
In February Wallace spoke extensively about wealth creation for Black people on the “A Shot of Facts” podcast hosted by Deja Renae.
“If you look at the creation of wealth over the last 40 years, the wealth creation engine of our country has come from the engineering and scientific part of our economy. If you look at the companies that are expanding in their wealth creation they tend to be tech companies,” Wallace said. “If you look at Facebook, if you look at Twitter if you look at Tesla, you look at Amazon…the foundation and the platform of Amazon is technology. I think that African-American people and people of color would be in a better position if we were to be greater participants in the STEM fields,” he added. “So, I’m a really big proponent of getting our young people trained, getting them positioned to benefit from these opportunities in tech.”
According to his website, Wallace has written eight books about “wealth creation, strategic partnerships, business spirituality, emerging markets and entrepreneurship…His books address the challenges faced by women, people of color, and entrepreneurs of all stripes from domestic and global emerging markets.”
One of Wallace’s primary focuses is to pull back the veil on STEM careers and bring young people of color into the arena in a demonstrative way.
“When young people are exposed to what engineers, scientists, chemists and physicists do, I find that the majority of them get excited. They just don’t have any linkage to help them understand that area,” he said.
“What I do is I write about it. In my companies I mentor young African-American students to expose them to engineering and science. In my businesses hiring young scientists… supporting schools that are focused on building a STEM pipeline of kids from the inner cities and the rural areas as well,” he added.
Wallace, who has been an entrepreneur most of his adult life encourages young people to focus on being their own bosses and building their own businesses.
“The wealth equation is driven by entrepreneurship and I’m suggesting there are a lot of entrepreneurial opportunities that are based upon technology,” Wallace said. “Our young people who are just as smart as anybody else, can get in and be a wealth creation player in the economies of the present and the economies in the future. So I think that it is imperative that our community really expands the pipeline of young people of color who are going into engineering and the sciences.”
As America grapples with its latest racial reckoning and works to create more pathways to equity he cautions against young Black people and other people of color being dissuaded by these challenges.
“The one thing I have always retained is hope. In the civil rights movement…we had a saying, we shall overcome. Well, why was that important? It was important because if you don’t believe that you can overcome then you just lay down and die, call it quits,” Wallace said alluding to the lessons of the American civil rights movement of the 1960’s that he lived through.
“If you don’t believe that your tomorrow will be better than your today than what reason is there to live? There’s no question America has not been fair to us as a people for 400 years,” he said. “America has not lived up to its promise of equality and equity in our society. America has not paid off that check that they owe us as a people,” Wallace added.
“Have we made progress? You bet we have….We have made a great deal of progress. And we always have to retain hope.”