Photo: E.J. Crane, watchmaker and jewelry store with man working in window and man standing in doorway, Richmond, Virginia. Photo, 1899(?). https://loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3c18028/
What is America’s Black Business Month?
August is National Black Business Month, a time to recognize and support Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs across the country. The annual celebration was created in 2004 when historian John William Templeton and engineer Fredrick E. Jordan partnered to advance the policies affecting 2.6 million African American businesses and develop greater economic freedom for Black communities. This month we reflect on the history of Black entrepreneurship, their impact on the United States economy, and the resilience of the Black community.
For generations, Black businesses have made critical contributions to America’s economy. Since the late 1700’s free and enslaved Black people have opened barbershops, tobacco shops, shoemaking shops, and other small businesses. Black business really began to boom during the “golden age” of 1900-1930. There was a wave of Black-owned businesses stemming from Jim Crow Laws segregating African Americans and forcing them to build communities separate from whites.
Historically, Black communities have endured systematic racism, inequality, wage gaps, and violence. In 1921, one of the worst racially motivated attacks in U.S history, the Tulsa Race Massacre, destroyed the Black-owned district of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Greenwood District was nationally recognized as “Black Wall Street,” for its affluent African American community. The series of riots robbed Black families in Greenwood of their lives, businesses, community, and the legacy they could have left behind. To learn more about the Tulsa Race Massacre visit the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.
America250 is committed to uplifting all American history and is proud to support Black Business Month. We invite you to support the Black-owned businesses in your communities and check out the organizations below that are amplifying the Black American experience and supporting Black-owned businesses:
- Minority Business Development Agency. The Minority Business Development Agency is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises.
- Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH®) promotes, researches, preserves, interprets and disseminates information about Black life, history and culture to the global community.
- National Museum of African American History and Culture. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.
Check out the hashtag #BlackBusinessMonth to find additional ways to support Black businesses.