NextHome Members Reflect on the Meaning and Inspiration of Black History Month

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Pleasanton, CA — Real estate is empowering and inspiring. We see it when we hand keys to a new homeowner. We see it when someone looks at a commercial property and imagines the future of their business. We see it when agents reach their goals. We see it when brokers and agents step into entrepreneurship to open their own NextHome Brokerage. This is what makes Real Estate the greatest industry. It’s an honor to be a part of creating homeownership and generational wealth.  

Real estate means pride, possibility, and achievement. However, for Black Americans, the power and inspiration of real estate was widely discouraged and denied for centuries. 

Conversations around race and real estate continue to evolve. It’s important to spark these conversations, and listen with understanding.  

In the leadup to Black History Month, we asked our NextHome franchise owners to reflect on what this month of remembrance means to them. 

What we heard were inspirational stories about the people who have paved their way. We heard about barriers to progress and how these remarkable owners are leading the way in their communities toward a brighter future in real estate for everyone, of every heritage.  

——-Teresa Fortson

NextHome owner Teresa Fortson shared how she was inspired by her grandfather. He was born in the late 1800s – a Black man in post-Reconstruction Era North Carolina. Despite the odds against him, Teresa’s grandfather built, owned, and operated a successful general store for more than 20 years. She fondly recalls her mother reminiscing about how she and her siblings had so many enjoyable moments because of that business.

Today, Teresa continues that legacy of successful business ownership as the leader of NextHome ATA Realty Group in Garner, North Carolina. 

“For me, Black History Month has always been a time filled with reflection, celebration, and education,” Teresa said. “My family and I also honor those who have paved the way for the overall contributions and achievements made to our country – people like my grandfather. I would like to think that my grandfather had a lot to do with the start of my entrepreneurial spirit.”

Listening to our NextHome members taught us the importance of pausing to intentionally look for unsung examples of Black achievement. 

“It is important to acknowledge those who persevered and shaped this country; the free thinkers, philosophers, and scientists of the Black community who we are not taught about in school,” said Mike Adams, owner of NextHome Elite in Lancaster, California. “It is important to continually learn and appreciate the diverse and significant contributions that Black individuals and communities have made, and continue to make, to society.” 

——Mike Adams

Mike is continuing this legacy of contribution to the community both as a NextHome franchise owner, and a community volunteer. He has been a deacon at Total Deliverance Church (TDC) for more than 10 years. In addition, he has helped gather food for Thanksgiving dinners, hosted haircuts for the needy, and delivered free real estate seminars. 

Black History Month offers an opportunity for our members to look around at both the past, and each other, to discover shining examples of excellence. 

“Black History Month is often a time when my own knowledge expands,” said Anita Cox Owner of NextHome Coastal Luxury Realty in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “I am always pleased to discover something new or someone from the past that I wasn’t aware of and their accomplishments. So many hidden stories from the past are finally coming to the surface, and I love the awareness.”

——-Anita Cox

As NextHome’s diverse family reflects on Black History Month, we not only honor those who came before, but also celebrate the many ways that NextHome members are paving the way for future generations. 

“As a leader in my market, as a broker, and owner of a brokerage, I feel a sense of commitment to always present myself and my brokerage in the best light possible,” Anita said. “I want to be a beacon of possibilities to other young Black Americans, showing them that anything and everything is possible.”

Around Virginia Beach, Anita is known for her sparkling presence as the host of Home Sweet Home Hampton Roads – a real estate program through the local ABC affiliate station that features all that’s great about living and working in Hampton Roads.

Tabitha Richardson, Owner of NextHome Leaders in White Plains, Maryland, is also determined to show the next generation of real estate professionals that anything and everything is possible. 

——-Tabitha Richardson

“My greatest pride comes from watching the individuals I’ve trained become successful REALTORS®,” Tabitha said. “I became the mentor I once longed for, guiding others to reach milestones previously beyond my reach. This journey is more than just about my success; it’s about paving the way for others.”

As part of her efforts to pave the way toward a better future, Tabitha authored a book titled, “How to Buy A House in 12 Months.”

“My goal was to educate prospective homebuyers on the home-buying process, particularly for Black Americans like me, and to make this knowledge more accessible,” Tabitha said. “It’s a journey of continuous growth and creating opportunities, ensuring that the road ahead is brighter and more accessible for everyone who dares to follow.”

NextHome members are making great strides to ensure that the empowerment and inspiration of real estate are available to everyone, regardless of race. However, we recognize that diversity in real estate isn’t where it could be. 

Ruthie Gallardo-Owens

“In recent years, I’ve noticed a welcome influx of diverse agents and lenders entering the real estate field,” observed Ruthie Gallardo-Owens, Owner of NextHome Experts Realty in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “While this is a positive development, it’s important to acknowledge that the path to success for African American agents differs from that of their counterparts. It often takes longer to establish oneself in the industry due to the lack of representation in leadership roles and within brokerages.”

——-—-Zakiya Lee

Tabitha echoed those sentiments as she shared her own experience achieving excellence as a Black real estate leader. 

“As a woman of color navigating the real estate industry and aspiring to be a broker, I embarked on an unmarked path,” Tabitha said. “Twelve years ago, when I set out to become a broker, I faced considerable negativity and discouragement. Yet, I persisted. Securing a mentor for guidance was a challenge, but I succeeded despite it.”

These successes are powerful forces for change in our communities. 

“Being in a leadership role within my community feels empowering, as it allows me to influence positive change and support the growth of those around me to homeownership and potentially generational wealth,” said Zakiya Lee, an Agent with NextHome Allegiance in Charlotte, NC. 

“I am delighted with the changes I have seen in my lifetime,” Anita added. “I am optimistic that the climate in our country will continue to evolve towards equality, peace, and acceptance of all, no matter the color of one’s skin!”

We can’t wait to see what’s NEXT as NextHome owners lead the way into a brighter future. If you’re interested in taking the next step in your career, email

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