Kingston, Ont., black-owned businesses brave rain to recognize emancipation

Kingston’s black business owners congregated in the city’s downtown Saturday afternoon to celebrate black-owned businesses, and to recognize emancipation.

A little bit of rain didn’t stop the first ever “Black Block Party” event from going forward.

The event was co-created by Tianna Edwards, who said the idea was formed out of her black-owned businesses list that she keeps on her Kingston-centred blog.

“I thought this year it would be really awesome to really honour the black-owned businesses list for the people who have been supporting virtually by following folks on Instagram and on websites, and it’s like, why not bring it I-R-L, in real life?,” said Edwards.

And bring it they did.

Despite the rain, there was plenty of foot traffic in front of city hall.

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Business owners set up booths to display and sell their goods while people enjoyed a bit of art, music and even some authentic jerk chicken.

After having her brain child come to life in the form of this event, Edwards said it makes her emotional to see everyone come together.

“To see so many black folks downtown in the pouring rain, showing up for each other and being comfortable just being themselves, that feels really emotional to me honestly,” she added.

Martha Williams agrees.

She is on the verge of opening her own hybrid business, which includes a spin class, yoga, a cafe and an art studio, “Pedal Works Cafe and Studios.

Williams said that persevering through the poor weather is a testament to why they were out there in the first place

“The main focus of emancipation, really, and the celebration around it is resiliency, so obviously with the rain and everything else, it’s kind of proving how resilient we can be. We’re still out here, we’re still trying to promote our businesses,” said Williams.

It’s not just about celebrating black businesses this one day.

Edwards said that her list of Kingston black-owned businesses has grown substantially since it began in 2020, a sign that more and more black people are making Kingston a home for both their families and their businesses.

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