By BETHANY SHERROW
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Entrepreneurs filled the Elliott Student Union Atrium on Wednesday, Aug. 31, to create their own Black Wall Street.
Briana Blocker, senior digital media production major, planned the event in conjunction with the Africana Studies Leadership Council as part of the weeklong All Lives Matter? program. She said the event was intended to highlight talented entrepreneurs in the black community both on and off campus.
“It’s important to put money back into our community, which is why I’m promoting all of these beautiful, black-owned business on campus,” Blocker said. “Even if you don’t have anything to give, just give them a chance, get their contact information. Know that we have all these resources here for us.”
Kay Randle, member of Africana Studies and owner of Kay’s Hair Extensions, opened the event by explaining the historic significance of Black Wall Street and encouraging those in attendance to invest in black business.
“It is very important for us to keep our dollar within our community,” Randle said. “You can do what you want to do. If you want a business, go make your own business. You can do it.”
Randle said the concept of keeping the black dollar in the black community means the whole community can see improvement.
“You never know how far that can go for that person, just do whatever you can,” Randle said. “If I can have a dream, why not take my dream and invest into someone else’s dream and see it do a duplicate effect?”
Daniel Gilmore, sophomore graphic design major, said his clothing line Chosen is meant to empower those who wear it.
“When people wear these clothes, I want them to feel valuable,” Gilmore said. “I want them to feel chosen. It’s not just me making clothes, I want to be able to create a feeling with the clothing.”
Gilmore said he is a member of Africana Studies and he thought teaming up with Blocker for All Lives Matter? was a perfect opportunity to see the gifts the campus has to offer.
“It’s just nice to see everybody out with their art and their visions that they have for their businesses,” Gilmore said.
Robbie Lewis showed off beanies from his clothing line Lifestyle at Black Wall Street, but he said he has more items for sale.
“I actually have a whole clothing line with a whole repertoire of clothing items,” Lewis said. “Everything is on my Instagram. That’s how you get in contact with me. I have more than just beanies. I have T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, I have baby onesies.”
Lewis said supporting small businesses is important for the black community.
“I think it’s important to support small businesses in general, but it’s important to support black business as a whole,” Lewis said. “We have to make a way to grow, and it has to start in the black community.”