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Black-Owned Businesses Saluted for Memorial Day

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On May 30, 2022, Africatown Community Land Trust in Seattle hosted its third annual the Black Wall Street Expo and Marketplace. The event gathered hundreds of local Black-owned businesses to showcase their products and services and is intended to celebrate Black history and honor Black-owned companies.

This year marked the 101st anniversary of the horrifying 1921 destruction of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when a violent mob attacked. In the aftermath of the violence, every Black-owned business at the time plus over a thousand homes were ruined.

But times are finally changing. Groups like Africatown Community Land Trust in Washington and Dallas Justice Now in Texas are making those changes. Research done by the University of California, Santa Cruz found that the number of new Black businesses owners has leapt almost 40% from February 2020 to August 2021.

The Return of Black Wall Street

Ndure Cain, Co-President of Dallas Justice Now, believes that it’s time to see the return of a Black Wall Street and he wants to see it in Dallas. “We want thriving Black neighborhoods with businesses owned by community members,” he says.

He dreams of building a community like the Greenwood District in 1920’s Tulsa, which was known as the Black Wall Street. It was a hugely prosperous and thriving Black community but that all ended on May 31 of 1921, when a Black man was accused of attempting to assault a white woman. With no evidence or investigation whatsoever, a mob of angry whites attacked the Greenwood District. A riot ensued that ended with 35 city blocks on fire, 300 people dead, and 800 more injured. Businesses were destroyed, homes went up in flames, and dreams died.

“This can’t be allowed to happen again,” says Cain. Dallas Justice Now is working to build up and empower Black-owned businesses, and seeks to educate members of the community to encourage self-reliance to build up a culture of ownership and wealth. “This is the only way to right the wrongs of history,” Cain insists, “and it’s the only reply to the blood of our people that was spilled in Tulsa so long ago.”

Struggles Facing Black-Owned Businesses

Dallas Justice Now is sensitive to the needs of modern Black business owners and entrepreneurs.

  • Healthcare: Nearly half of Black small business owners reported that their persona finances suffered due to the pandemic and are currently in financial debt due to health care costs. Almost a quarter report lacking any health insurance, compared to 13% of other entrepreneurs.
  • Finances: Only 47% of Black business owners are typically approved for loans, compared to 75% of white business owners.
  • Sustainability: Prior to the pandemic, 42% of Black-owned businesses were considered stable, compared to 73% of white-owned businesses. After 3.5 years in business, only 4% of Black businesses are still open, compared to the national average of 55.5%.

Yet they are determined. Nearly 20% of Black entrepreneurs used their pandemic stimulus checks to start new businesses, showing a truly enterprising spirit.

Buy Black: Starting a Social Movement

Since the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been an increasing trend toward “Buying Black”, aka supporting Black-owned businesses and companies.

“It’s trendy right now,” Cain acknowledges. “But it’s not a trend. It’s a movement toward sustaining our businesses and companies and entrepreneurs.” It’s more than just being aware of Black business, he goes on. It’s making conscious choices to seek out products and services offered by Black individuals.

The movement is certainly growing. In Los Angeles, Beverly Center is showing Black designers and Black-owned fashion brands in June and July 2022. The event is called EMERGE in Color and is curated by Maison Black and The Black Fashion Movement. Events like this are spreading like wildfire and Cain sees bright things in the future.

“Black-owned business owners see a light at the end of the tunnel,” he says, “but there’s still work to do. We’re here for it. Black Wall Street will return and I want to see it happen here in Dallas.”

Contact: michele@dallasjustice.org
Website: https://www.dallasjustice.org/