Cayuga County Launches Website Featuring Black-Owned Businesses

Resilience and love, two characteristics that define abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s legacy. February is Black History Month, but what about the future? Cayuga County, where Tubman’s legacy endures, recently launched a “Discover Black-Owned Businesses” website to help them grow.

“Black excellence means that we know who were are, we define what we want, we stand on our square, we’re unapologetic about what we can have and we will have what we say we can have,” said entrepreneur Melody Smith Johnson.

While Tubman is known for her role as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and spy in the Civil War, she was also a successful business woman. As an entrepreneur, Johnson knows she’s here today thanks, in part, to the people who came before her. 

“I’m here because men and women who look like me survived the middle passage,” she said. “I’m here because my ancestors didn’t give in. I’m here because Harriet Tubman took dozens of trips back and forth and risked her life.”

What You Need To Know

  •  The “Discover Black-Owned Businesses” website was launched this week
  •  Melody Smith Johnson is an entrepreneur who runs two businesses in Auburn
  • Currently, 22 Black-owned businesses are listed on the site

Johnson is the founder of two businesses, Melody’s and Divine Coverings. 

“Melody’s is a co-working space. It’s the first co-working space to be founded by a Black woman in Auburn and Cayuga County,” Johnson said with a smile. “Divine Coverings is an online retail business that focuses on, again, women products.”

She hopes to uplift and inspire the women around her. 

“I’m not good until we’re all good,” she said. 

That mindset led to her being part of the Cayuga County tourism board, helping develop the “Discover Black Owned Businesses” website that released this week. 

“Black-owned businesses are here to stay. We’re doing well, we’re thriving,” said Johnson. “So the process was to connect, find out where we were, what we were doing and allow us to tell the story in a way that would be attractive.” 

The website will shine a light on every business. 

“Folk who come to the Finger Lakes region will get to see those individuals businesses and be exposed in the ways that they haven’t been exposed before,” she said. 

And pave the way for future business owners. 

“Children need to know that they have a right, it is their birthright, to not just exist and not just survive, but to thrive,” Johnson said. “I want to see us explode, I want to see us franchise, I want to see the proverbial Black Wall Street in Auburn. And it’s important to be categorized as a Black-owned business, because we’re dope.”

You can view the website at here. 


New Panelists, Black-Owned Wine Brands Added To AAAV Symposium And Wine Festival March 9-10, 2024

Association of African American Vintners’ Biennial Event Returns to Napa

Livermore, Calif. (February 29, 2024)—Wine lovers and industry professionals are invited to taste and network with Black wine entrepreneurs from across America at the
Association of African American Vintners’ (AAAV) Symposium and Wine Festival March
9-10, 2024 at CIA at Copia in Napa, Calif. Featuring some of the brightest minds and most
popular brands in the wine industry, the two-day event offers a luncheon keynote by Donae Burston of La Fête Wine Company, insightful panel discussions, an awards reception emceed by actor Jay Jackson and the Grapes of Inclusion wine festival featuring more than 20 Black-owned wine brands.

Ink Grade Hospitality Manager Balkis Johnson is a new addition to Saturday’s panel
discussion “Sommelier Unveiled.” She will join Master Sommelier Vincent Morrow of
PRESS Napa Valley and Wade Cellars’ George Walker III in demystifying the role and the
ways sommeliers impact the wine industry. Their conversation will be moderated by Wine
Unify Executive Director Alicia Towns Franken.

Following Donae Burston’s candid luncheon keynote about the efficacy of supplier diversity
programs, more industry leaders will gather for a panel discussion of “Alternative Pathways to Market.” James Harris, CDP, Sr. Director, Diversity & Inclusion and Supplier Diversity at H-E-B, Vinoshipper President Steven Harrison and Murice Anderson, Founder & CEO of AMG Branding, will dig into the many ways entrepreneurs can sell their wines. Their conversation will be moderated by Swan Dotson of Togun Wines.

New to the lineup of Black-owned wine brands pouring for the public at Sunday’s Grapes
of Inclusion wine festival are Dwayne Wade’s Wade Cellars, P. Harrell Wines and Tympany
Vineyards. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste wines from more than 20 brands
and make their own pairings with gourmet bites expertly prepared by Culinary Institute of
America chefs.

AAAV’s 2024 Wine Symposium Weekend is sponsored by Total Wine Spirits Beer & More,
Bronco Wine Company, CIA at Copia, H-E-B and Wine Enthusiast. Event tickets are
available at Detailed schedule follows:

Lifting The Bar: Expanding Your Wine Business
March 9, 2024, 10am – 5pm
CIA at Copia, 500 1st Street, Napa, CA 94559
$350 per person

Panel: Sommelier Unveiled–Beyond the Glass
We all know and respect the fancy title, but what does a sommelier really do? Learn about
all aspects of the role, including required education, possible career paths and even how a
sommelier could help boost your business. Moderated by Wine Unify Executive Director
Alicia Towns Franken. Panelists: Balkis Johnson, Hospitality Manager, Ink Grade; Master
Sommelier Vincent Morrow; George Walker III of Wade Cellars.

Keynote Luncheon
Enjoy a sumptuous lunch created by CIA chefs and paired with AAAV member wines.
Keynote speaker Donae Burston, founder of La Fête Wine Company, will share his views
on progress, barriers and impactful next steps to help make wine inclusive.

Panel: Alternative Pathways to Market
There are many ways to get your wine into the glass of a consumer—distribution is only
one option. Explore the various paths to market (and related careers) with a panel of
experts moderated by entrepreneur Swan Dotson of Togun Wines. Panelists: Murice
Anderson, Founder & CEO, AMG Branding; James Harris, CDP, Sr. Director, Diversity &
Inclusion and Supplier Diversity, H-E-B; Steven Harrison, President, Vinoshipper.

Awards Ceremony & Reception
Join actor and wine aficionado Jay Jackson for a festive reception featuring member wines
and bites that highlight African flavors and cultural cuisines. AAAV will honor recipients of
the following awards: Trailblazing & Leadership Excellence, Innovation in Wine Production,
Community Impact.

Grapes of Inclusion: AAAV’s Black-Owned Wine Festival
March 10, 2024, 12 – 4pm
CIA at Copia, 500 1st Street, Napa, CA 94559
$200 per person

Taste the wines of 20+ Black-owned brands from across America and meet the founders
and winemakers behind them. Nosh on gourmet bites prepared by CIA chefs. Network with industry professionals and discover unique wines from participating producers, including: Ampere Wines, Bodkin Wines, Hedon State, Longevity, Love Cork Screw, LoveLee Wine, J Moss Winery, Mad Marvlus, McBride Sisters Wine Company, Mom Juice, P. Harrell Wines, Sapere Wines, Sipwell Wine Co, Stover Oaks Winery, The Vice, Theopolis
Vineyards, Tympany Vineyards and Wade Cellars.

About Total Wine Spirits Beer & More
Total Wine Spirits Beer & More has an extensive selection of over 8,000 wines, 4,500
spirits, and 2,500 beers, all at exceptional prices. Additionally, Total Wine Spirits Beer &
More is committed to giving back to the local community. In 2023, Total Wine Spirits Beer
& More contributed over $13.5 million in monetary and in-kind donations to 16,000+
organizations helping those organizations raise in excess of $85 million to support their
good works in the community.

About Bronco Wine Co.
Founded in 1973, Bronco Wine Co. has become a force in the US wine industry. As a
family-owned company, its focus on crafting quality wines for every table is evident through hard work, innovation, and willingness to embrace change. These fundamental virtues are the backbone of the company’s success and have laid a solid foundation for generations to come.

About CIA at Copia
The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia is an epicurean destination in downtown
Napa, where guests can immerse themselves in the past, present, and future of food.
Located in the Oxbow District, CIA at Copia offers an array of enticing culinary experiences delivered by CIA chefs and experts, including hands-on cooking and beverage classes; lively public events and art exhibits; a signature garden-to-table restaurant; Lunch Box, a casual weekday eatery; Wine Bar, a self-service tasting experience; a culinary and lifestyle-themed marketplace; and The Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum. CIA at Copia is also a unique setting for weddings and private events. All proceeds from CIA at Copia benefit CIA student scholarships.

About H-E-B
H-E-B, with sales of $43 billion, operates more than 430 stores in Texas and Mexico.
Known for its innovation and community service, H-E-B celebrates its 118th anniversary
this year. Recognized for its fresh food, quality products, convenient services, and a
commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability, H-E-B strives to provide the best customer experience and lowest prices. Based in San Antonio, H-E-B employs over 154,000 Partners in Texas and Mexico and serves millions of customers in more than 300 communities. For more information, visit and the H-E-B Newsroom.

About Wine Enthusiast
Wine Enthusiast Companies is a Certified B Corporation and the ultimate source of
innovation and information around wine. Founded in 1979 by Adam and Sybil Strum, the
company is composed of Wine Enthusiast Commerce and Wine Enthusiast Media.
Embodying the commerce side, the Wine Enthusiast Shop provides premium wine-lifestyle
products, reaching millions of consumers globally via direct mail, an e-commerce site, and
a business-to-business division. Representing the media side, Wine Enthusiast magazine
is an award-winning print publication and online resource that showcases wine news, food
trends, and more than 25,000 ratings and reviews annually. By the end of 2023, reached 4.5 million monthly pageviews and is the industry leader with the most traffic of any wine media website. Wine Enthusiast events include the annual premier Wine Star Awards gala. Together, Wine Enthusiast Companies is the indisputable hub for everything wine. We bring wine to life.

About the Association of African American Vintners
Founded in 2002, the Association of African American Vintners stands as the go-to
resource for advancing equity in the wine industry. Our mission is to provide
comprehensive education, advocacy, and community support not only for Black vintners
but also for wine brands and industry professionals. Serving as a guiding beacon, we
advocate for inclusivity and breaking down barriers for all. With the mantra “We Make Wine Inclusive,” we welcome individuals across the wine community to seek the information required for industry advancement. Our commitment is to be a central hub where knowledge, support, and unity converge to propel everyone towards success. Visit for more information and to purchase many AAAV member wines.


Meet The Founder Behind Maryland’s First Pre-Approved Black-Owned 5-County Federal Credit Union

Meet Troy Smith, the Founder and CEO of G1 Investment LLC and the United States Economic Rights Coalition (USERC), who is working with seven other African Americans to launch the proposed C3 Federal Credit Union, which will be Maryland’s first-ever Black-owned 5-county Federal Credit Union. His group began meeting in March of last year to develop an FCU to serve their communities’ underrepresented African American and Hispanic residents.

Troy and his team are working hard to raise $10 million in donated capital. Their goal is to convince 100,000 people to donate just $100. They are based in Charles County and Prince George’s County, Maryland, and have worked throughout the year on the NCUA Proof of Concept submission, which requires the organizers to rigorously research all the legal characteristics of chartering a federal credit union, specifically focusing on their Purpose and Core Values, Field of Membership, Subscribers, and Capital Funding Plan. NCUA reviews and scores each Critical Element in the Proof of Concept using a 100-point scale, providing a score of up to 25 points for each element.

For groups meeting the minimum score of 80, the NCUA will send a formal invitation to submit a full charter application. Proposed C3 Federal Credit Union has received that formal invitation. Meet the leader of a group of volunteers who worked all 2023 to submit a Proof of Concept application to the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) to establish a black-owned five-county community development Federal Credit Union Charter. The National Credit Union Association (NCUA) issued a historic Pre-Approval letter to Proposed C3 Federal Credit Union on January 28, 2024.

For the first time in Maryland history, the NCUA has preliminarily agreed to consider these five counties in Maryland as one community — Charles, Prince George’s, Calvert, St. Mary’s, and Anne Arundel—just under 2 million potential members. Federal Credit Unions (FCU) differ from banks in that their depositors equally own them, and they are geographically restrictive. FCUs must identify a Field of Membership (FOM) based on a common bond. The common bond can be occupational, associational, or community-based. Community chartered FCUs can have a field of membership (FOM) that consists of a single political jurisdiction or multiple contiguous political jurisdictions so long as the population is 2.5 million or less.

“The Federal Credit Union system is the most powerful financial institutional framework available in our country because it puts power in the hands of the people who make the deposits. Whereas a bank, especially large US banks, take deposits from the general body of people and funnel loans into the hands of their preferred account holders, leaving African American and Hispanic businesses and individuals chronically underfunded and voiceless,” says Troy.

Phase 2 of the chartering process includes preparing a business plan, developing a proforma, surveying the proposed field of membership (FOM), and raising capital.

C3’s mission is to financially strengthen the Maryland community by providing financial literacy workshops, entrepreneurship training, and investment educational seminars while ensuring access to responsible credit, savings, and business services in an environment filled with hospitality and compassion.

C3 will work to educate youth and adults on the purpose and importance of savings and investing and on understanding how to handle capital responsibly. The proposed federal credit union will support the local business community by providing business services, education, and loan products to keep the business community at the cutting edge of information and technology and well-leveraged to compete in an ever-aggressive competitive economy.

The following steps for this initiative are for the proposed federal credit union to survey the field of membership and begin raising the capital needed to bring this vision to life. If you live in any of the following counties (Charles, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Calvert, St. Mary’s), please complete the survey, as they need at least 384 surveys completed to qualify.

C3 seeks $10 million in donated capital to launch the proposed federal credit union. To donate, please visit:

To watch the DocuSeries created please visit the following links:

• Official Trailer:
• Full Episode:

Troy adds, “It is time to re-experience the power of intentional collaboration and show society that significant and impactful things can happen when people come together and demonstrate their strength.”

For press inquiries, contact Proposed C3 Federal Credit Union at


Atlantic City Community Pushes For More Black-Owned Businesses Amidst Historic Decline

Atlantic City, once a hub for Black-owned businesses, now sees a mere fraction of what it used to have historically.

Press Of Atlantic City reported that Atlantic City, once a hub for Black-owned businesses, now sees a mere fraction of what it used to. Historically, over 300 Black-owned businesses thrived in the Northside. Today, only a handful remains, surviving integration in sectors like barbershops, beauty parlors, churches, and funeral services, according to Ralph Hunter, president of the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey.

Despite the decline, a new wave of entrepreneurs is determined to reverse the trend. Carson Days, co-owner of Swapz AC in Tanger Outlets, sees promise in the diversification of businesses, providing opportunities for smaller establishments to compete with major corporations. The push for revitalization has garnered support from residents and the local community.

Discrepancies arise in counting Black-owned businesses, with Visit Atlantic City listing 15 and Yelp reporting only six. Nationally, Black-owned firms have seen a notable increase, reaching 161,031, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Gross revenue for these businesses has surged by 43%, demonstrating growth from $127.9 billion in 2017 to $183.3 billion in 2021.

Determined entrepreneurs like Dominic Francis, owner of Heady2Go smoke shop, feel the positive impact of increased Black-owned businesses. “From the responses I get when people hear that I’m the owner, it’s always positive. It’s like a light to them that there’s more Black-owned business opening in Atlantic City,’’ said Francis. “We always get customers that want to support and show love, and they express how we need more Black-owned businesses in A.C.”

However, Days and Francis emphasize the need for additional resources such as grants, incentives, and increased awareness to foster sustainable growth.

Technological advancements and educational initiatives, such as the Small Business Academy, are seen as catalysts for success. Despite the challenges, there’s optimism that, with the right support and awareness, Atlantic City can witness a resurgence of Black-owned businesses, reclaiming its historical legacy.



Applications Open For Micro-Grants Supporting Black Entrepreneurs In The Region

Kingston Economic Development says they are pleased to announce that the Black Entrepreneurship Ecosystem – South Eastern Ontario (BEE-SEO) has received a donation of $10,000 from Kingston-based computing company Distributive to establish Business Enhancement Grants for black entrepreneurs in the region. They say these micro-grants will support local Black-owned businesses in expanding their market presence, acquiring new clients and increasing sales.

BEE-SEO is a not-for-profit organization launched in the spring of 2023 with a mandate to support and create programs and services to help Black business owners and entrepreneurs in this region overcome the unique challenges they face. 

Local entrepreneur and businessman Dan Desjardins says he was inspired by the vision of BEE-SEO. 

“Distributive believes that entrepreneurial ecosystems are made stronger when everyone is welcome to the table and when everyone can pitch in. The best way to support the Kingston community is to support each other and futureproof our own small business owners so we are stronger together. When seeking out products or services, we encourage Kingstonians to first look at what local Kingston companies – both established and brand new – have to offer. Support our ecosystem, buy Kingston-made,” says Dan Desjardins, CEO of Distributive.

Applications for the $500 Business Enhancement Grant for Black Entrepreneurs are now open and being accepted until March 10th, 2024.    

“We are thankful for the wonderful donation from Dan Desjardins of Distributive, as well as the incredible support we continue to receive from the Kingston Economic Development Corporation and other organizations. Dan’s goal is to help Black-owned businesses reach new markets, create value for customers, and generate repeat sales. BEE-SEO is excited to contribute to the economic growth of Southeastern Ontario by supporting Black Entrepreneurs on their business journey,” says Patrick Egbunonu, Board Chair of BEE-SEO.

The Kingston Economic Development Corporation has expressed their support the work being done by BEE-SEO. “The incredible support BEE-SEO has received from the Kingston community since we started is a testament to the vibrant and generous spirit of our ecosystem. Entrepreneurs like Dan Desjardins have highlighted key challenges in entrepreneurship: the difficulty lies not only in establishing a business and offering quality services but also in attracting and retaining customers.  With this contribution we will able to support 20 black-owned businesses, offering them a tangible support in their efforts to grow. This is a great way to celebrate and wrap up Black History Month,” says Norman Musengimana, Business Development Manager of Start-ups and Entrepreneurship at Kingston Economic Development.

After the application deadline, there will be a celebration event and black entrepreneurs and business showcase on May 11th, 2024 at Pedalworks. 

With files by CFRA’s Connor Ray


Haines City

Haines City, Florida, is embarking on a significant initiative to rejuvenate the historic Oakland community’s business district, a move that’s stirring excitement among both former business owners and residents alike. This effort, led by the Haines City Community Redevelopment Agency, aims to restore the vibrancy of an area that was once the heart of the African American community in the 1950s but experienced a sharp decline in the mid-1980s. Retired business owner Bennie Prichett, who owned a club and restaurant on what was once Eleventh Street, now Martin Luther King Way, reflects on the area’s golden years and its subsequent downturn.

Historic Significance and Decline

The Oakland community’s business district was once a bustling hub, featuring a movie theater, an ice cream parlor, and numerous shops and restaurants, serving as a central point for the African American community in Haines City. However, an economic downturn in the mid-1980s led to the closure of many businesses, including Prichett’s own establishment, causing the area to lose its former luster. This downturn marked the end of an era for the district, leaving a void in the community that has been felt for decades.

Revitalization Efforts Underway

In a bid to revive this historic district, the Haines City Community Redevelopment Agency is taking decisive action by planning to hire a consultant who specializes in the revitalization of black-owned businesses. This move is part of a broader strategy to breathe new life into the Oakland community, with the city aiming to engage a consultant by spring. The initiative has been met with widespread approval from the community, including Prichett’s son, Gregory, who fondly remembers the role local shop owners played in the upbringing of the area’s children.

Community Engagement and Future Prospects

The city’s commitment to keeping the community involved throughout the revitalization process is a key aspect of this initiative. By engaging with residents and former business owners, Haines City leaders hope to ensure that the rejuvenation of the Oakland district reflects the needs and aspirations of those it aims to serve. The prospect of reviving the area’s historic charm while fostering economic growth and community development is a source of optimism for many, heralding a new chapter in the story of this once-thriving business district.

The revitalization of the Oakland community’s business district represents more than just the restoration of buildings and businesses; it symbolizes the rekindling of a community’s spirit and the preservation of its historical significance. As Haines City embarks on this journey, the initiative offers a beacon of hope for the revival of black-owned businesses and the restoration of a vibrant community life that once defined this historic district.


Reviving Atlantic City

In Atlantic City, the historical epicenter of Black entrepreneurship is witnessing a revival. Once home to over 300 Black-owned enterprises, this vibrant community now sees a new generation of entrepreneurs eager to reclaim its economic and cultural heritage. Ralph Hunter, a local historian and the president of the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey, reminisces about the city’s Northside, where Black businesses thrived. Despite the significant dwindling of these enterprises, there’s a palpable sense of optimism fueled by both community and city-backed initiatives aimed at fostering Black-owned ventures.

The Historical Context

Atlantic City’s Northside was once a bustling hub for Black-owned businesses, including barbershops, beauty parlors, churches, and funeral directors. The cultural landscape was richly enhanced by venues like Club Harlem, a beacon for African American artists. However, the advent of integration saw a decline in these community-centric businesses. Nonetheless, the importance of such enterprises extends beyond economics; they are vital for the community’s identity and heritage. This narrative is complemented by historical accounts from significant moments in Black transit history, highlighting the broader struggles and triumphs of African Americans.

Technological Advancements and Supportive Programs

Today, technological advancements and the internet have opened new avenues for Black entrepreneurs, allowing them to overcome some of the traditional barriers to entry and success. This is further bolstered by city initiatives like the Small Business Academy and seminars specifically targeting Black and minority-owned businesses. Such programs are not just about financial literacy or business acumen; they are about creating a supportive ecosystem that acknowledges the unique challenges faced by Black entrepreneurs and providing them with the tools to thrive.

A New Wave of Entrepreneurs

The resurgence of Black-owned businesses in Atlantic City is not just about reviving a legacy; it’s about creating a sustainable future. The new wave of entrepreneurs is keenly aware of the historical significance of their endeavors. They are not only looking to create economic opportunities but also to foster a sense of community and belonging. The support from the city and community is crucial in this regard, offering a foundation upon which these new businesses can build and grow.

The revival of Black-owned businesses in Atlantic City is a testament to the resilience and determination of the African American community. It’s a reminder of the city’s rich cultural heritage and the integral role that these businesses play in the economic and social fabric of the community. As this new chapter unfolds, the legacy of the Northside endures, inspiring a future where Black entrepreneurship is once again a cornerstone of Atlantic City’s identity.


Atlantic City Has Far Fewer Black-Owned Businesses Than It Used To

ATLANTIC CITY — Black-owned businesses once dominated the resort.

At its high point, more than 300 of them called the city’s Northside home. Now, the number of Black-owned businesses overall in the city is a fraction of that.

“Today, there’s only four basic businesses that survive integration, and those four basic businesses are the Black barbershop, the Black beauty parlor, the Black church and the Black funeral director,” said Ralph Hunter, an Atlantic City historian and president of the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey.

But a new generation of business owners is trying to increase those numbers.

With support from residents, the city and others in the community, some merchants believe more Black-owned businesses could survive in the city.

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“I wouldn’t have ever thought this would have happened with this many people in this many stores. I’m happy that it actually diversified this way and expanded out to where The Walk actually let smaller businesses come in and compete with major corporations,” said Carson Days, who owns Swapz AC in the Tanger Outlets with his business partner, Matt Akpan. “So that’s actually really, really good because some locations are just horrible.”

The number of Black-owned businesses in the city varies by source. Although there are 15 Black-owned businesses listed on Visit Atlantic City’s Black-Owned Businesses count, Yelp lists only six.

Around the country, there are 161,031 firms with majority Black or African American ownership, up from 124,004 in 2017, according to the latest estimates from the Annual Business Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation.

Black-owned firms’ gross revenue increased 43% during that period, from an estimated $127.9 billion in 2017 to $183.3 billion in 2021.

“From the responses I get when people hear that I’m the owner, it’s always positive. It’s like a light to them that there’s more Black-owned business opening in Atlantic City,’’ said Dominic Francis, owner of the Heady2Go smoke shop in the Tanger Outlets. “We always get customers that want to support and show love, and they express how we need more Black-owned business in A.C.”

Days and Francis agreed that more resources, like grants or incentives for owners, and creating more awareness of the Black-owned businesses the city has would boost Black-owned business growth.

Due to technological advances like the internet and social media, Hunter said there’s a greater chance for more Black-owned businesses to succeed.

“There’s lots of new business. It’s the age of technology. There’s a lot of companies that are in all kinds of businesses that relate to the computer age, but the toy store, the car shop, the restaurants or things of that nature, or the restaurants just don’t exist in those areas,” Hunter said.

The city has educational programming that encourages business growth through the Small Business Academy, which teaches residents what it takes to become entrepreneurs, city spokesperson Andrew Kramer said. The city also has held a seminar geared toward Black and minority-owned businesses on how to do business with the city.

“Atlantic City residents have what it takes to become entrepreneurs. While this free program is open to all residents, the hope is future Black and minority business owners take advantage of this opportunity,” Kramer said.

Hunter said many of the businesses that were operational in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s in the Northside no longer exist. He said that part of the city had a total of 31 Black-owned bars and liquor licenses at one point, citing iconic places like Club Harlem.

Club Harlem had three to four shows daily that were almost always booked to the venue’s 3,000-person capacity, before the casinos were even around, Hunter said.

The club also brought entertainers from all over the world to play there, especially African American artists since they weren’t permitted to play at hotels or the Steel Pier prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion and national origin.

“Because integration has taken place in and around the world, cities — not only Atlantic City, but cities like the Southside of Chicago; Gary, Indiana; Detroit; Brooklyn, New Harlem, New York — those businesses don’t exist today. And one of the reasons why they don’t exist is because integration happened and people started moving out of the redline districts, moving into areas that were totally different after Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Hunter. “So if you had a series of hundreds of businesses in a redline area, they just don’t exist today in a traditional African American community where they were forced to live.”

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