My grandfather, Willie Green lived just outside of Selma, Alabama. My mom was his only daughter and we went to see him at least four times a year. One of the things I loved about visiting “granddaddy” was going into town. The Negroes had the businesses on Broadway and the Caucasians had businesses on Main St. My grandmother was a tailor at a dry cleaners in an alley between Broadway and Main. Granddaddy knew every business owner on Broadway and they knew him. As a matter of fact, everyone knew each other and I was proud to be Willie Green’s granddaughter.
I did not realize until I was much older the power of the Negroes doing business with each other. My grandfather sold meat from his cattle and hogs to the community. Ms. Lucille that owned diner on Broadway cooked for so many. The produce she used at the diner came from the community farms. Yes, that was in the 1960s and times were different? Or were they really? The difference we HAD to do business with each other because we were not allowed in “white” establishments. My parents even traveled with “The Green Book”. That was a book that told road warriors safe places to stop for food, gas, and lodging.
Incredible? Oppressive? What is true; segregation forced us to be economically empowered. The dollar turned over in our Community at least three times then. That was then and this is now. Since desegregation, the dollar turns over in our Community one time, unemployment is at an all time high, property ownership is low and literacy rates have slightly improved but the quality of our education is questionable.
How can we turn our communities around? Support our businesses. We need to consciously “buy black”. It is proven, people preferably employ people that look like them. That would be a dent in unemployment. With more jobs, we can hold on to our legacy properties that are passed down to our generation while purchasing more properties. Staying in our neighborhoods provides school connections. Everyone knows the people that has lived in the corner house for years.
“Buying black” seems small but the impact is huge. So…
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE
Seek out three black businesses to support and post the results on our Facebook page. Your participation with this challenge will cause a ripple effect in our community.
This article originally appeared in The San Antonio Observer.