Weekly Pop-Up Market in Chicago Aims to Recreate Black Wall Street and Create Economic Opportunities for Black Business Owners

Black Wall Street gives vendors like Maureen Burks a place to showcase their art, services and products. / Provided

A weekly pop-up market is creating economic opportunities for Black entrepreneurs, artists and business owners on the West Side.

The market, Black Wall Street, borrows the name from the district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was a historic epicenter of Black commerce in the early 20th century. Black Wall Street one of the wealthiest Black communities in the country until it was burned to the ground in the Tulsa Race Massacre by white mobs in 1921.

The Black Wall Street market, held 12-6 p.m. Saturdays at 3708 W. Roosevelt Rd., seeks to replicate the prosperity of its namesake from over 100 years ago, said founder Lavern Herron.

“When they started, they probably had just one store. … But starting small, if we have our minds focused on the same thing, we can make this much bigger,” Herron said. “This is really about creating a wave of economics and entrepreneurship in the community.”

The market brings together around 30 vendors each week to set up tables and sell their art, jewelry, clothes, ceramics, hair products, cosmetics, skincare, health foods and other goods. Heron organizes games, raffles and performances at the market “so both the visitors and the vendors can have entertainment,” she said.

The market takes place under a tent at a vacant lot Herron purchased to try to make the unused land useful to the community again, she said.

“I thought it would be a good idea to make use of this vacant lot,” she said. “Use what you’ve got. Yeah it’s raggedy, yeah it’s a lot of trash over here. But with your own hands you can clean it up and build it into something way bigger than what we’ve been seeing.”

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SOURCE: Block Club Chicago, Pascal Sabino

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