Black History Month: The Importance of Representation

By Hope Walborn | Feb. 16, 2024 | 5 min. read

This Black History Month, Realtors® across the state share how they got into real estate and how representation in the industry is essential.

Jason Phillips is a member of the Realtors® Association of York and Adams Counties. He’s been a Realtor® for seven years and is the 2024 RAYAC president.

“I became a Realtor® because I believe in the importance of homeownership in real estate as a pillar for wealth,” Phillips says, adding, “Real estate changed my life because it has given me the opportunity to serve my community and provided the freedom to spend my time as I choose.”

“What I enjoy the most about working with buyers and sellers is the ability to assist them in achieving their goals during a time when trust and professionalism are highly valued and appreciated,” he continues.

As for his accomplishments, he’s most proud of his position as the current board president of RAYAC, which helps him realize his potential and provides him with a platform to inspire his own community.

“I think it is important for the Black community to see representation in real estate because it is one of the cornerstones of our country and can be a challenge to navigate and intimidating to pursue without representation from our culture,” Phillips adds. “I encourage members of the Black community to become involved in real estate because it is a right that many of our ancestors have dreamed of and a gift to give and pursue for future generations.”

Beverly A. Herndon, a member of the Washington Green Association of Realtors®, has been a Realtor® for 21 years. She served on her local board of directors in 2019 and as their 2023-24 president.

“I became a Realtor® for the opportunity to assist buyers and sellers with their real estate needs,” Herndon says. “Real estate has changed my life because of the many friendships I have, because my main objective in being a Realtor® was to build relationships.”

“As a member of the Black community, it’s important to be part of the cultural representation in the real estate industry,” she adds. “This provides so many opportunities to see diversity working in such a tremendous way.”

Tri-County Suburban Realtor® Gwen Richardson has been a Realtor® for 14 years. In 2022 and 2024, she has been on the Tri-County Suburban Realtors® Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and in 2023 she served on their Nominating Committee. Richardson first decided to enter real estate as a way to work in sales and have the flexibility in her schedule to continue acting.

“My first year as a Realtor® was a revelation,” she recalls. “Witnessing the emotions, milestones and dreams fulfilled was like directing a thousand heartwarming movies a day. Acting faded into the background, replaced by the thrill of being part of people’s real-life stories. Today, I’m not just a Realtor®; I’m a story maker. With every handshake, every open house, every key handed over, I get to write a new chapter in someone’s life. Together with my clients, we craft a story with a happy ending they love living in.”

“Representation inspires, empowers and paves the way for a future where dreams take flight, regardless of color or background. Every diverse face in the real estate landscape is a beacon of possibility, a testament to the fact that this industry belongs to everyone,” says Tri-County Suburban Realtor® Gwen Richardson.

Richardson’s proudest accomplishment as a Realtor® so far has not been about closed deals and money earned, but the people she’s been able to help along the way, especially in the Black community.

“It’s about sparking hope, opening doors and witnessing dreams take root. And nowhere is that feeling more profound than in the Black communities I’ve been able to serve,” she says. “Traditionally, the dream of homeownership can feel distant for many within these communities. Financial literacy gaps and credit concerns often act as invisible walls, keeping potential homeowners sidelined. That’s where I saw an opportunity to bridge the knowledge gap and empower individuals to unlock their potential.”

Richardson recalls a conversation with her cousin who was trying to buy a home and was told she needed a good credit score, but the banker who told her this didn’t tell her what her current score was, assuming from her skin color that it was low. This and other conversations helped Richardson realize how biased assumptions were preventing minorities from pursuing homeownership. As a result, she set out to help educate, partnering with local churches to spearhead comprehensive seminars on homebuying and financial literacy.

“A diverse and inclusive real estate industry is better equipped to understand and address the unique needs of all clients,” Richardson says. “It fosters cultural sensitivity, promotes understanding and facilitates more effective communication and collaboration. Ultimately, it leads to a more equitable and accessible system for everyone.”

“Representation inspires, empowers and paves the way for a future where dreams take flight, regardless of color or background,” she continues. “Every diverse face in the real estate landscape is a beacon of possibility, a testament to the fact that this industry belongs to everyone.”

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