• New Haven’s first Black Wall Street Festival to take over Temple Street Plaza Saturday

    From CT Insider
    By Mark Zaretsky

    New Haven's first Black Wall Street Festival to take over Temple Street Plaza Saturday
    NEW HAVEN — The city and its partners will showcase the cultural and economic riches of its Black community Saturday at New Haven’s first Black Wall Street Festival, featuring black-owned business, artists and entertainers as part of a broader effort to spur and support inclusive economic growth and equitable arts programming.
     
    The festival will take place Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. on Temple Street Plaza, located at 160 Temple St. between Chapel and Crown streets, opposite the Omni New Haven Hotel.
     
    It will feature more than 25 Black-owned businesses ranging from books, the arts, clothing to consulting, cosmetics and skincare, food, drinks, jewelry and wellness products, among other things, said Cultural Affairs Director Adriane Jefferson.
     
    It also will figure entertainment, including FUNkSHUN, Ricky Alan Draughn and Dj Eazy.
     
    “This is a very special moment in time for our city,” Jefferson said at a kick-off for the event. “It’s the first time we’ve done a Black Wall Street Festival.”
     
    She urged people, both within the Black community and its allies, to “make sure you show up, bring your wallets and support Black businesses.”
     
    Jefferson talked about how, historically, “Black Wall Street” commercial areas had been destroyed in places such as Tulsa, Okla. and Oscarville, Ga.
     
    The Black Wall Street Festival, which is “in alignment” with the city’s new cultural equity plan, is a way to help support the growth of Black entrepreneurs and cultivate young leaders in arts and entertainment so people “don’t have to go to Atlanta and Los Angeles and New York” in order to be successful, she said.
     
    Mayor Justin Elicker said the festival “is important because historically we have under-resourced the Black community.”
     
    While a Black Wall Street Festival won’t turn that around all by itself, Elicker pointed out that “over the last couple of years, 28 new Black-owned businesses have opened in the city.”
     
    Elicker praised Jefferson for her work and said, “she just rocks it in so many ways.” He emphasized that while New Haven actually has a Wall Street — which largely runs through the Yale campus — the Black Wall Street Festival will be in the Temple Street Plaza.
     
    “It’s exciting to see this kind of energy,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being here with my family and I hope you’ll be here, too.”
     
    Among the city’s partners in the event are The Breed Entertainment, founded by Grammy-nominated producers Aaron "Y.A" Rogers and Rashad "Snacks" Johnson. The festival was organized by the City of New Haven Department of Arts, Culture, and Tourism in partnership with The Breed Entertainment, a New Haven-based music production and entertainment company.
     
    Rogers said the Black Wall Street Festival “is important not only for our artists but for the community.”
     
    It won’t change things by itself, said Rogers, who said they received the Grammy nomination for their work on Tamar Braxton’s “Love and War.”
     
    But “this is just the beginning of something great,” he said.
     
    Arden Santan, founder of SAHGE Academy, said the festival comes at a “momentous time.” and is a way to put “money in the hands of Black entrepreneurs.
     
    “I encourage Black consumers to come out ready to spend,” she said, also reaching out to “our white, brown and red allies.”
     
    One of the merchants who will be at the festival, Athena Murphy, owner of Lip Lock LLC, which sells vegan and cruelty-free lipsticks, said she will have all of Lip Lock’s products in her booth Saturday.
     
    Jesse Phillips, coordinator of inclusive growth for the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, said “the Chamber stands ready to be a partner, not only this Saturday” but for broader initiatives to follow.
     
    City Economic Development Administrator Michael Piscitelli said “it’s inspiring and an honor” to be part of the effort and “take true action steps” to support Black businesses.
     
    “The vendors that we have coming out are among the best quality that we have in our city,” Piscitelli said. He pointed out that in terms of spending power there are roughly 130,000 people in New Haven — and more than 850,000 people in the Greater New Haven area.
     
    Among the vendors are The OG Collection, Brie Naturals, Sangella, Nourish Our Seeds, herbal life, Bodeusa, Jenn B Skin, Positivlee Eyewear, Alana Ladson Art, Pardon My Past, When I Grow Up, Try This Pie, HerbalJones Tea, Tiermayah Gourmet Lipgloss, SĀHGE Academy, Koloùr, Aspenne’s Library, Concreat, Kobey Enterprises, Bilonn’s Vision, The Breed Academy, Timeless Elements, LLC, Shirley Rose, Tunnel Vision Clothing, J&R’s Balloon Banners and Many Donuts
     
    mark.zaretsky@hearstmediact.com

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