Deemed a catalyst for action
By Kristina Dixon | Across Black America
The recent New Haven Black Wall Street Festival, produced by the Department of Arts, Culture, and Tourism in partnership with The Breed Entertainment, was a gathering to highlight Black and brown business owners and creatives. Organizers consider the annual event as a catalyst for action toward dismantling systemic racism in New Haven, Conn. and a strategy to revitalize Black and brown economic wealth across the city.
The family-friendly event on Aug. 19 featured live music and performances from local youth groups such as the Elite Drill Team, Wolfpack Drum Squad, the Monk Youth Jazz Ensemble, and STEAM Collective.
Aspiring entrepreneurs visited the “empowerment tent” for inspiration. There will also be a designated space for members of the Divine Nine to network with one another. New Haven Director of Cultural Affairs, Adriane Jefferson, spoke to the multiple purposes for the festival.
“It’s a celebration. It’s a time for us to come together as a community. But it’s also cultural preservation. It is cultural equity. It is being able to tell our stories our way, through our mouths, and to celebrate together. ”
Following the inaugural event’s success in 2022, the second annual Black Wall Street Festival came in almost four times larger.
The term Black Wall Street honors the legacy of the Black Business districts that appeared throughout America in the 19th and early 20th centuries, like the Greenwood district of Tulsa, OK. The community predominantly consisted of Black-owned homes and businesses.
The once-bustling community was destroyed by an angry mob of racists in 1921. Other Black Wall Streets included the Jackson War district in Richmond, Va., Sweet Auburn in Atlanta, Ga., another in Harlem, NY, and Farish Street in Jackson, Miss. These communities were dissolved through covert tactics like redlining and gentrification.