delawareonline/NEWS JOURNAL (ARTICLE)
BUM RUSH BLACK BUSINESSES
An event aimed at promoting shopping at minority-owned businesses was an inspiration of civil rights activists, said an organizer of the first “Bum-Rush Black Businesses.”
“I really was inspired by Dr. [Martin Luther] King and Malcolm X’s work,” said Richard Watson, a local musician who goes by the name Richard Raw who is one of the organizers of the Bum-Rush Black Businesses event that took place Saturday. “They said we got to strengthen black institutions, we have to strengthen businesses.
“This was the work that Dr. King did in the latter part of his life,” Watson said referring to King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech where King called for among other things, economic actions.
Through this event, Watson hopes to encourage people to meet at a minority owned business at least once a month in an effort to get people to support these businesses.
David Smith, U.S. Black Chamber relationship manager, called the event “a great initiative.”
Nationwide, black businesses are faced with challenges to grow and expand, Smith said.
“Often times, black businesses are met with obstacles at banks when to obtain lending to grow their firms due to poor-average credit, lack of equity, lack of expertise or plain discrimination,” he said. “There are 1.9 million black-owned businesses in the country, and 1.8 million of them are single employer or sole proprietorship.”
Oftentimes those who want to support black owned businesses, have difficulty finding them. Additionally, typically black-owned businesses have a more difficult time gathering consistent support of their establishment to help them stay open during down times, Smith added.
“Black consumers spend less than 5 percent of their earnings with black-owned businesses,” he said. “Events like this can be very successful, because there has been a recent surge in supporting minority-owned businesses across the country.
“Now that people understand that small businesses generate much of the economic growth in this country, small businesses should be seeing a lot more traffic. Particularly for black-owned businesses, willing supporters can now be informed of local black owned businesses in their neighborhoods and help spread the word of their establishment.”
Smith said the chamber has a mobile app that helps users locate the nearest black-owned business and is available for both iPhone and Android phones.
Bum-Rush was started by Watson where at his music events he sells merchandise from local businesses. When he noticed a lot of people were interested in the merchandise, but did not know about the businesses he and his wife, Alishah, developed idea. The two are organizers of Cultural Restoration Program.
“We just promote cultural in the city of Wilmington and all the surrounding areas,” said Alishah Watson. “This is just one of the projects we are working on to highlight black businesses, Latino businesses in the area.”
The first Bum-Rush, named so because they wanted lots of people taking part, took place at Mejah Books in the Tri-State Mall, in Claymont.
About 45 people went out to the two-hour event, including Mike Johnson of New Castle.
“It’s important that we set the tone for supporting black businesses ourselves,” said Johnson, who purchased some shirts and books. “A lot of this stuff is not available in other of places. For me it’s a good outlet to get things.”
Photographer Jason Minto contributed to this story.
Contact Esteban Parra at (302) 324-2299, firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @eparra3.\