The kind of festival we’ve all been waiting to be part of filled the streets around 23rd and Jackson in the Central District on Memorial Day in an event organizers described as an occupation by “200 plus Black businesses” marking the 100th Anniversary of the Black Wall Street massacre in Tulsa.
Build Africatown Coalition organizers said Monday’s festival, rally, and teach-in was an effort to “protest economic apartheid” and “demand economic justice for the Black community in Seattle, Martin Luther King Jr. County, WA” —
Increasing the success of Black-owned businesses is one the most effective ways to build generational wealth, decrease Black unemployment and support thriving Black communities.
Reports show that up to 98% percent of Black businesses are owned by soloprenuers, having no employees. If these businesses can grow enough to hire 1-3 Black employees, Black unemployment can be nearly eliminated while adding over $55 Billion to the economy.
Although these same Black businesses were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black community and its businesses have not received equitable relief resources. Now is the time to take bold action to build a new normal rooted in equity.
Vulcan and Amazon divest from predatory development and support Black ownership at 23rd & Jackson.
King County and City of Seattle invest $300 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds into the Black community.
Local government, corporate sector and philanthropy invest $1 billion dollars to seed the Build Africatown Black Community Development Fund.
The event was held at 23rd and Jackson where a major influx of development is reshaping the area including the Jackson Apartments development from Vulcan that is creating hundreds of new apartments and a new Amazon Fresh grocery on the site of the former Promenade 23 shopping center and the old S Jackson Red Apple.
CHS reported here on small pockets of Black ownership around the changing 23rd and Jackson intersection thanks to new restaurants like Jackson’s Catfish Corner and a few new small businesses joining the new developments.
But many community advocates including Africatown have argued that efforts around Black ownership must grow to include the properties and buildings where the new developments rise. One example could come at 23rd and Spring where Africatown Plaza, a 7-story building with around 130 units of planned affordable housing, is currently under construction.
Monday’s event also came as communities mark the one-year anniversary of the days following the police killing of George Floyd and the start of Black Lives Matter protests in Seattle.
While organizers have continued to call for devoting Seattle’s share of federal COVID-19 economic relief to Black community needs, city officials unveiled a proposed $128.4M Seattle Rescue Plan last week with money earmarked for neighborhood and community spending, along with small business support, and millions for homelessness resources and services.
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