In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, Minister Louis Farrakhan in October issued a call to action to the Black community heard around the world, “Justice or Else!” One particular “or Else” is an economic boycott during the holiday season to bring attention to the blatant disrespect of human and civil rights against the African American community.
But since the African American community contributes so much to the economy, the theory of some Durham entrepreneurs is to leverage cultural buying power to place an ask on a system, rather than boycotting the holiday shopping season altogether.
“But with any explicit boycott of goods and services, there needs to be a deliberate ‘buycott’ of the same from another source,” says local entrepreneur Moses Ochalo, who is teaming up with events entrepreneur Joshua Gunn, Derrick Beasley of Parrish Street LLC, Crystal Taylor of The Underground and Ja’Nell Henry of J. Cardinal events to host the first Black Market today at the Durham Arts Council.
The mission of The Black Market is to encourage people to buy their holiday gifts from black-owned local businesses, to provide exposure to that diverse collection of black businesses and encourage entrepreneurship in black communities.
“It’s not just about supporting these businesses,” Ochalo says. “I want entrepreneurs and the community to see that it’s possible for black entrepreneurs to come together, for black people to support them and for everyone to flourish because of it.”
Ochalo is the founder of The Vault, a special events space with the mission to build community and facilitate and inspire social change in Durham with a space dedicated to promoting art and culture. The Vault is located on Broad Street downtown, directly under The Palace International, a restaurant owned by Ochalo’s parents. He was inspired to become a second generation entrepreneur after witnessing his parents build a club responsible for bringing international acts to the Bull City.
Ochalo initially got together with his five long-time friends to form the creative collective, Black August in the Park, last summer. B.A.P. consists of the friends and their four black-owned businesses, which all have the same agenda to use arts and culture through events as a conduit for social change.
The event took place in Durham Central Park and was meant to establish community in Durham through a celebration of black culture. After gathering over 1,000 people in the park, the follow up will focus on the circulation of the dollar in the black business community, The Black Market.
The organizers expect more than 600 shoppers to show up for the inaugural event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Participating vendors include Mike D’s BBQ, Knottie by Nature jewelry, artwork by Edith Grey Designs, beauty products from Hairizon, t-shirts and hats by Rhymes and Designs and many more. Follow @thepalacevault for more information on The Black Market and future events.
The collective is on a mission to change the narrative about business in the black community, from not just pushing streetwear but solving social issues through community and creating a renaissance of Durham’s Black Wall Street.