Norman Oliver has shifted from basketball and politics to entrepreneurship. His new development of housing for low-income buyers may seal his reputation as someone who just wants to do good.
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Meanwhile, Oliver held a series of government-related jobs. Today his many political and community contacts are valuable assets as he pursues his varied enterprises, both nonprofit and for-profit.
His Sunday night TV show, which he had co-hosted with Rep. Hazel Plant for seven years, until she passed in November, serves as Oliver’s bully pulpit to the black community. He interviews politicians and community leaders, urges viewers to vote, and touts his favorites, usually Democrats. His efforts on Plant’s behalf in the September Democratic primary failed. He also supported incumbent State Treasurer Velda Jones-Potter, who lost to Chip Flowers.
Those defeated candidates give some credence to observers who say Oliver has lost influence in the black community. But Oliver’s many supporters—some of the state’s leading movers and shakers among them—point to all the good he has done, and to the fact that he has never been convicted of any wrongdoing, or even formally charged.
Admitting he once aspired to be “mayor, lieutenant governor, even governor,” Oliver now seems committed to his businesses, especially Rock Solid. “I think that’s going to be my calling.” Admitting that he has little expertise in building, he points out that he has “a lot of experience in networking and building teams.”
“I understand my limitations and my strengths,” he adds.
Such self-awareness helped bring Norman Oliver to this point in his life’s journey, a point where he has the power to name affordable, quality housing after his mother, and where he can do good while doing well. “I’ve been on welfare,” he says, “and now I’m a member of the University and Whist Club.”
Not bad for a kid from Southbridge.