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Inaugural Black Wall Street Festival aims to amplify voices of New Haven's Black business owners

The Black Wall Street Festival is also meant to honor and commemorate the history of Black Wall Streets in America.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — There's an ongoing mission in New Haven as the city looks to highlight Black business owners throughout the area. To kick it off, they're bringing the businesses together for the first-ever Black Wall Street Festival. 

Adriane Jefferson is the New Haven Director of Arts, Culture & Tourism. She said the event is a combination of things that have already taken place to amplify the work of Black and brown people in the city.

"So we expect us to continue to thrive and to continue to happen," passionately said Jefferson. " And the idea is that we're going to dismantle all of the unjust and Inequitable systems in the city." 

The event will take place in Temple Plaza in New Haven on Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.

Jefferson believes this event will impact many. 

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"So many of our residents who have been unseen, unheard, and feel like they haven't had the platform to thrive...are now they are going to be able to show their talents, skills and build back economic wealth," Jefferson said. 

The Black Wall Street Festival is also meant to honor and commemorate the history of Black Wall Streets in America. For example, the one in Tusla, Oklahoma, is known as the deadliest race riot in history as it claimed dozens of lives and financially ruined a thriving African American business center once known as the "Black Wall Street."

"Black Wall Streets were prosperous Black business districts that really self-sustained Black people and generated wealth," said Jefferson. 

Which is precisely why the festival is working to revitalize roaring Black wall streets and economic growth, in the Black and Brown community, using it as a platform to take true action steps. 

"Think about Black Wall Street as an opportunity as well for both respirations with value and true quality so the vendors that we have coming out are of the best quality you will find anywhere in the city," said Michael Piscitelli, New Haven's economic development administrator.

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There have been 28 new Black businesses in New Haven this year, and events like this help get the word out about them and so many others. With more than 25 businesses lined up for the event, it's all about focusing on inclusive growth. 

"And it's important because historically, we have under-resourced the Black community, and we're working hard with our team, City Hall, and our partners to undo that," explained Mayor Justin Elicker. "And we're undoing that in so many different ways." 

Black business owners, city leaders, and partners say this event will make a huge impact, especially on the younger generation. 

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"We know where we come from and that we have been a part of that level of wealth and self-sufficiency; they know that it's possible to have it again," said Ardern Santana, civic educator and founder of the SAHGE Academy.

"It's very important that the future children have representation of themselves and where they could be and what they can do by being in this community itself, so that's our goal to get back to our younger version of us and to show them what they can one day be in our position," said Athena Murph, Lip Lock LLC owner.

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


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