Black-owned pop-up businesses and organizations lined the block of Minnehaha starting from Arbeiter Brewing up to The Hook and Ladder during the free 2023 Soul of the Southside festival on Monday, June 19. The event was presented by the Legacy Building, The Hook and Ladder, and KRSM 98.9.
These businesses featured hand-crafted fashion pieces, mental health services, food and more. Many of the business owners are new, local businesses that got their start during or after the pandemic. One example of this is Black artist, teacher and entrepreneur Rajine of RajineTheQueenArtistry. Rajine began her art business and teaching career in 2020 after the death of George Floyd. Her goal is to show her students the value of having a BIPOC teacher. Rajine’s multimedia artwork is inspired by the femininity of Black women.
“I just want to show I’m proud to be a Black woman,” Rajine said. “We all come in different shapes, sizes and hues.”
Omot Akway opened his Ethiopian coffee business, Afro Grind Coffee, in 2022. During college Akway struggled with staying up late to complete assignments and relied on energy drinks to keep him awake. After visiting a coffee shop with a friend, he realized that the energy drinks were having negative effects on his body, but felt relaxed by the smell of coffee beans surrounding him. That experience inspired him to create his own coffee business inspired by his Ethiopian background. The event was Akway’s second pop up experience, and he hopes to continue selling in more events and spaces like farmers markets.
“I want to make a coffee brand that represents me, where I’m from and people like me,” Akway said.
Reviving Roots, a Black centered, Black serving and Black affirming wellness organization led a yoga workshop during the event, along with offering information about their services. The organization started in 2019, created by mental health therapist Marlee James. As five percent of mental health providers are people of color, James saw a need for Black therapists in the mental health space, and created an organization that would support the community. Reviving Roots is located in Loring Park and offers an array of mental health and well-being services, along with membership opportunities.
Juneteenth is a celebration of the emancipation of slavery in the United States. To many, the celebration is more than that. Juneteenth is also a celebration of the Black communities as a whole – a celebration of resilience, beauty, and togetherness.
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