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Kansas City group spearheading local 'Buy Black' movement

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Posted at 7:08 AM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 08:08:43-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A group of Black business owners in Kansas City, Missouri, which has worked together for years to support Black-owned businesses, is seeing its goal take root now more than ever.

Protests across the United States calling for racial equity in the justice system have led to similar calls in the economic arena. A movement to “Buy Black,” or to spend money at businesses owned by African Americans, is gaining momentum.

“One of the reasons we believe we need to support Black-owned businesses is because Black-owned businesses provide jobs and actually support economic development in Black communities and we want to make sure we have businesses stay viable,” explained Kathy Persley, the chair of the Buy Black Empowerment Initiative.

Her organization provides training, exposure and other resources to Black entrepreneurs in Kansas City.

One of its tools getting the most attention right now is a smartphone app that acts as a directory of Black-owned businesses in Kansas City. The group is working to add businesses in other cities to the app. It is free to download by searching “Buy Black App” in either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

“We just want to continue to be able to provide opportunities [for businesses] to grow, maybe from one person to 10 people,” Persley said. “So whatever we can do to support that, we’re looking forward to doing that and helping people develop themselves and their businesses.”

Barbara Hayes-Jenkins said the movement has been a long time coming. She is a committee member of the Buy Black Empowerment Initiative and owns an advertising firm called Artline Agency.

She said when she launched the agency, white business owners would not work with her. She felt discriminated against. So she has made it a mission to work with and support Black-owned businesses.

“You have to have the spirit of determination. You can’t always give up,” Haynes-Jenkins said. “There is a lot to make you give up. There are a lot of mean-spirited people in this community, Black or white, there are, there are going to be challenges you’re facing. However, you gotta know who you are and what you stand for.”

Chris Goode, the owner of Ruby Jean’s Juicery, said June was an incredibly busy month.

He said the intentional support for Black-owned businesses is necessary to help them overcome huge obstacles Black entrepreneurs face when launching a business. Goode said finding funding is one of the main challenges Black entrepreneurs face compared to white business owners. Persley agreed.

“Unfortunately, people look at your skin and presuppose you don’t know anything or that you’re not qualified and so all those challenges are out there,” she said.

Learn more about the Buy Black Empowerment Initiative by visiting their website.