DALLAS — With the holiday season around the corner, Friendship West Baptist Church and Pastor Frederick Haynes want to encourage shoppers to support Black-owned businesses via the "100 Days of Buying Black" campaign. It’s an effort Haynes says should be a commitment instead of a trend.
“This campaign is inspired by the victorious story that turned tragic about the business community known as Black Wall Street,” Haynes said. “Earlier this year, we commemorated 100 years since that phenomenal community was destroyed— massacred— by vicious racists. This is our determination to honor their legacy, but at the same time pick up the economic baton and engage in building Black wealth, Black business wealth and Black communities.”
According to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum, back in 1921 a series of events destroyed “Black Wall Street.” The community in Greenwood District was recognized for being the most affluent area and home to African American doctors, business owners and other thriving members of society. What allegedly started out as a confrontation between Black and armed white mobs regarding an incident the morning of May 30, 1921, spiraled into the burning and looting of the district on June 1 of that same year. Once the dust settled, historians say at least 35 city blocks burned to the ground, more than 800 people suffered injuries and as many as 300 people died in what’s now called a “race massacre.”
“One of the things that’s really interesting parenthetically is that that community even though it did not survive the massacre from COVID-1619, it survived the great pandemic of 1918 and one of the reasons it survived the pandemic of 1918 is that they had their own self-contained community, they had their own hospitals and they had their own doctors,” Haynes said. “They had a community that could support Black people. So, we want to not only pick up the baton, but also challenge our community to establish an economic habit of supporting with intentionality Black businesses.”
Back in the summer of 2020, a time of increased racial awareness in America, people looked to let their money also talk for them outside of protesting in the streets in the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd, Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor and dozens more. The renewed attention drawn to police brutality and racism in America prompted people to support Black-owned businesses. But, Haynes hopes this campaign reminds people that support in times of a disaster is just not enough.
“One hundred days will establish a habit,” he said. “It’s not just something we feel emotional about in the aftermath of a terrible tragedy. But, now it’s something that we are making a part of our daily living.”
Now, a quick search of Black-owned businesses will pull up lists and threads of artists, restaurants and small business owners to patronize. In an interview with CNBC, Jayson Watkins discussed the importance of creating a document that allowed anyone searching for businesses of any kind and in several parts of the United States to easily find it.
“These businesses are fueled by the community, they rely on community support,” Watkins told CNBC. “Even if it’s just visibility of their business and showing any social media handles, that would be enough if people can’t donate.”
The 30-page document includes #BlackLivesMatter resources and highlights cities such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando and Seattle, among many more.
“Just as this country loves the flavor we bring to food, we also bring flavor to businesses,” Haynes said. “So, when you invest in Black businesses not only is the business going to benefit, you’re going to benefit from the soul and the flavor of what it means to be Black in this country.”
For the past five years, Friendship West Baptist Church has hosted “West Wall Street” allowing small business owners the chance to showcase and sell their goods. The event has brought people of varying races near and far to circulate money within the Black community.
“Even though we want Black people to support Black businesses, we want everybody,” Haynes said. “The doors of Black businesses are open to everyone…”
History has shown how people of color have been marginalized from lending practices as it relates to investing in small businesses. But Haynes hopes with continued spending and attention to the long-standing matter, the tide will turn.
“As you bring your resources and benefit from it, we hope you turn around and use the privileges that you have to open doors of opportunity so that these businesses will have access to capital, access to business loans and access to resources that they have historically been denied simply because they are Black,” he said of white people.
For Haynes, places like Off the Bone BBQ, Sankofa, Girl Cave LA and 2 Sisters Sweet Creations are just some of his favorites across the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex that he frequents. The campaign, which kicked off on Sept. 23 runs through Dec. 31.
“It’s not benevolence we’re asking for, we’re asking for an investment,” he said. “We’re asking for something that will benefit you as you extend a hand to those who continue to deal with barriers to their own economic prosperity and economic help.”