NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Wednesday is Juneteenth, an American holiday that commemorates the end of slavery on June 19, 1865. Some young men in Hampton Roads are celebrating a little differently this year. They created a pop up market highlighting black-owned businesses at the LWADance studio in Chesapeake.
Juneteenth is an incredibly important holiday in the black community. It celebrates the social freedoms that African American ancestors fought for, but these young men said they also want to highlight the economic and financial freedoms in the black community.
Table by table, Robert Garris and Larry Whitaker set up their first pop up market.
“When we are talking about Juneteenth, and we’re talking about freedom, it’s just not physical freedom, but economic freedom as well,” said Whitaker.
As students at Norfolk State University and entrepreneurs themselves, they want to highlight what that freedom means in the black community.
“Instead of going to your nearest corporation, how about you fund a black-owned business? Because when you fund a black-owned business, you know you are putting food on the table for that child or that person,” Whitaker said.
With 30 vendors expected, and food and music, they say it’s also a learning experience for the youth in our community
“The entertainment, the athletes, the rappers, and they think that is the only way to reach being financially free. Being rich, but no you can own your own business you can go to school there is other ways to doing it,” said Whitaker.
Litesah Williams is just one of the vendors at Wednesday’s market.
She owns a body painting and henna business. She says she wants the whole black community to feel how she feels.
“I do feel proud that I do what some people think typically you wouldn’t be able to do,” she said.
Juneteenth is all about the breaking of chains. Garris said they want to keep that momentum and remind their community to not keep each other down.
“It shows people like we’re not scary, we do things productive. It’s not just what you see on TV, or what you hear about with the stereotypes, it’s more to us. We have beautiful stories, and we have a beautiful way of telling those stories, and I feel like this is the perfect way to do that,” Garris said.
The market was scheduled from 4-8 p.m at LWA Dance at 1648 Military Highway in Chesapeake. Organizers say if this year is successful they will do it again next year.