Black Wall Street is thriving in New Haven.
On Saturday, the city held it's first Black Wall Street Festival, showcasing twenty-five vendors and businesses.
Organizers tell us this celebration of talent is also one step in efforts to close economic gaps in New Haven.
On display in New Haven's Temple Plaza Saturday, art, fashion, jewelry, makeup, and books, all at a first of its kind event celebrating local talent.
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“So that people don't feel like they have to go to Atlanta or LA to get seen and heard, and to have a platform,” Adriane Jefferson, the director of the city’s cultural affairs.
The name of the festival, Black Wall Street, as deep historical connotations.
“Black Wall Streets were really, really prevalent in the 1900s, prosperous black business districts,” Jefferson explained.
The name invokes images of Tulsa, Oklahoma's Greenwood district, a thriving Black neighborhood that went up in flames in a streak of deadly racial violence in 1921.
“So much of that history was hidden, as if the existence of the Black, brown people were being erased and we wanted to revitalize and restore that concept of Black economic wealth,” continued Jefferson.
The festival was brought to life by New Haven’s Department of Arts, Culture, and Tourism and the ‘Breed Entertainment’.
City leaders say highlighting local entrepreneurs is part of a larger cultural equity plan.
“We have to do culturally relevant programming that's going to speak to the people right here in this city. In addition to that, the wealth gap is major. We need to start to close the wealth gap. We're not saying that a Black Wall Street Festival is the only answer to that, but it is the beginning,” says Jefferson.
And some local business owners are seeing the festival as a jumping off point.
“Small business owners, black-owned businesses are starting to get what they needed, what we deserve. That's recognition,” Rashan Boyd of A Hustler’s Vibe Clothing Brand said.
“We're here to make a statement. We're here to be a part of Black Wall Street and continue to keep the legacy going forward,” Melissa Murphy of Liplock LLC added.
The Black Wall Street Festival ran from 12 to 6 Saturday.