The Seattle organization is holding a black-owned business fair in celebration of Memorial Day

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May 31 marks 101 years since Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma was destroyed by a violent mob of white people.

On the occasion of Memorial Day, Africatown Community Land Trust honored the legacy of the affluent neighborhood by showcasing local black entrepreneurship at the Black Wall Street Expo and Marketplace.

“It’s something that builds the economy of the black community. It’s something that supports the black community and our story and our legacy because if our stories aren’t told, they will be erased. And we are here in our community no longer to be deleted. We’re here to show off our black brilliance and we’re here to stay,” said Elijah Lewis, community builder for Africatown.

This was the third year that the Africatown Community Land Trust hosted the event in the Central District on the 23rd and Jackson. The organization brought together more than 200 vendors from across western Washington to highlight their businesses.

“People came today to show their shops, to show their products. This is Black Excellence, Black Business,” said the owner of Def Jemzheadquartered in Tacoma.

Black Wall Street collapsed in 1921. Hundreds of lives were lost, more than 1,200 homes were destroyed, every business was ruined, and their history was erased for decades. Although a massacre of this kind has not been repeated, Seattle’s historic Black Central District feels like its own culture is being wiped out.

“We see that this is the epitome of what gentrification looks like. Unfortunately, the black community has really been wiped away from this block. So it’s important that we bring the black brilliance to this block in particular. We also know that there is a lot of violence that has taken place on this block throughout the Central District’s history. So it’s really about taking back the block, but it’s also about giving these new residents a chance to experience what was here before they came here,” said TraeAnna Holiday, host of the event.

The event was also an opportunity for the public to explore black business beyond 23rd and Jackson.

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“I think this is one of the few opportunities to do this at this level in this place at this time. But it shouldn’t be the only time people reach out to the Black community and Black business owners,” said Chelsea Richardsonauthor of All water has a perfect memory.

Africatown’s mission is to strengthen and preserve the black community through the acquisition, development and management of land in Seattle.

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