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Black Wallstreet Grand Rapids promotes unity with Juneteenth encore event

Community gathers for Grand Rapids Juneteenth encore event at Tashi's Place coffeehouse
Kylie Ambu
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Black Wallstreet Grand Rapids hosts Juneteenth encore event

The event featured a presentation about Black Wallstreet Grand Rapids' plans to elevate Black business on the city’s southeast side, which include a $100M capital campaign and reconstruction of eight business districts. The afternoon also highlighted Black-owned vendors like Miss Johnnie's BBQ and Catering and 24K Gold Coffee.

As the U.S. officially celebrates Juneteenth as a federal holiday, Black business leaders in Grand Rapids said they’re working to promote unity and understanding across the city.

On Thursday, June 23 Black Wallstreet Grand Rapids hosted a Juneteenth encore event at Tashi's Place just outside the city's downtown. The coffee shop is owned by Linda Skornia, a White business owner, who said she wanted to offer her space as an ally to Black and Brown communities.

“What can I do best to help? Again with being respectful. There’s a lot of people like big box stores co-opting the name of a holiday for profit, but not always for good," she explained.

Preston Sain, President and Founder of Black Wallstreet Grand Rapids, said this is a perfect example of what Unity looks like.

“When we can understand each other’s value and contributions and skill sets, and bring that together that is how we can create that world-class city that we are destined to be," he said.

The event featured a presentation about Black Wallstreet Grand Rapids' plans to elevate Black business on the city’s southeast side, which include a $100M capital campaign and reconstruction of eight business districts. The afternoon also highlighted Black-owned vendors like Miss Johnnie's BBQ and Catering and 24K Gold Coffee.

Savannah Earvin-Wilson, owner of Miss Johnnie's BBQ and Catering said having her goods showcased in Tashi's Place shows the power of partnership beyond racial boundaries. Earvin-Wilson told WGVU she had trouble getting a foot in the door with businesses in her neighborhoods, and said it's something she hopes will change now that she's found success at Tashi's Place.

"That was the door that opened up for me first, and it's been so emotional for me. I'm so excited, so humbled because I know my product is good. I've been working hard at it and someone else of no color brought me in...Now I'm going to build with Linda and then my culture is going to see 'she's good too,' and I'm going to get all those contracts," she said.

As Sain addressed Juneteenth, he said it’s important to acknowledge America’s past transgressions and how many systemic issues still have a grip over communities of color. Looking forward, he says it’s up to everyone to work on a more equitable and vibrant future.

“All we want to do is be able to educate and learn from the past. Take the good things from the past, add them to into what we can build together now and move forward together," he said.

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