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Nubian Square block party boost Black businesses

Hundreds turn out to support local vendors

Morgan C. Mullings
Staff reporter covering state and local politics. Report for America Corps Member. VIEW BIO
Nubian Square block party boost Black businesses
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley enjoys a moment at the Buy Back the Block event Saturday. PHOTO: LAUREN MILLER

Roxbury reunited in the street on Saturday at two outdoor events in Nubian Square; a block party hosted by Black Market and an open-air market hosted by the The American City Coalition.

In the Blair parking lot, live music curated by the nonprofit music promotion group BAMS Fest set the atmosphere for about 20 stands of goods at “Savor the Square.”

Local organizations coordinated by Roxbury Main Streets and the nonprofit Black Owned Bos. spread the word over their networks to get businesses and artists on board.

Nubian Square block party PHOTO: LAUREN MILLER

Down by the intersection of Washington and Eustis Streets, a stage was set for performances at “Buy Back the Block,” and in between, a row of businesses lined the Black Lives Matter street mural.

The two events complemented each other’s energy and drew in crowds of families ready to buy Black.

Christine Araujo, executive director of The American City Coalition, said the group hosted four Savor the Square events last year, and now that COVID-19 restrictions are gone, there’ll be one every month.

“The goal is to get residents into the square to enjoy the offerings here. All the businesses that we have here are minority, micro businesses,” she said.

Circulating the Black dollar throughout the square is crucial to Black Owned Bos., one of Boston’s resources for uplifting Black-owned businesses. While the group partnered with The American City Coalition to bring their network of small outfits to the square on Saturday, it also holds its own similar events across the city.

“Those are the things that I love to see: more people coming into this neighborhood,” Black Owned Bos. founder Jae’Da Turner told the Banner. “Just see what’s here and see what we have to offer.”

The Black Owned Bos. directory includes natural hair care business Naturally Nixon, run by Roxbury native Danielle Eddins, who came through with shampoos, conditioners and combs for Savor the Square.

Nubian Square block party PHOTO: LAUREN MILLER

What started out as a hobby for the mother and former teacher turned into a thriving hair care business catered towards families and children.

“I don’t care who you are, we’re for everybody,” Eddins said.

Around the corner from her table was a tent surrounded by piles of jeans, each for $5. Ronald Wooding, 66, brought the clothing from his store that closed down at the start of the pandemic, as well as his cousins, to the event. Though he had other events to attend that day, Wooding said, “I’d rather be here with my people.”

About halfway through both events, acting Mayor Kim Janey took the stage at Buy Back the Block, where she was thanked by her supporters. Behind her, the artists who painted the Black Lives Matter Mural began a new spray-painted piece, a fence mural of the Roxbury zip code 02119. The end of the mural features Janey’s face.

“This is an incredible show of the vibrancy of Roxbury in Nubian Square, the importance of small business [and] of artists,” Janey told the Banner.

“A lot of people don’t consider graffiti an art. So it’s really important,” said Lee Beard, one of the artists working on the mural.

One of Beard’s collaborators, Mar, said that they’ve gotten more recognition because of their work with Black Market, which commissioned the street mural and the new fence mural.

“Our name just started going up,” Mar said.

Janey noted the importance of supporting Black businesses after honoring the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre and the destruction of Black Wall Street.

“To see this display of joy, community coming together, after 15 months of just devastation from COVID-19, is just so incredibly special,” she said.

City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell also attended and spoke to businesses at the block party, promoting the importance of supporting local businesses.

“People who really are taking a risk on things they believe in creating, are creating incredible products for the community,” Campbell said.