Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Last August marked 400 years since the first Africans reached the shores of Jamestown, Virginia where they were auctioned for sale as slaves. In remembrance of this historic event, one millennial entrepreneur is planning a different kind of sale – one that he hopes will impact the next 400 years of African-American history.
On Aug. 23-25, 2019, over 120 Black-owned vendors and consumers gathered at the second-annual We Buy Black Convention in Atlanta at the Georgia International Convention Center. There were Black-owned companies selling everything from soaps and shea butter to laundry detergent, bed linens, and toothbrushes. While the items themselves may represent the routines of everyday life, event organizer and founder of e-commerce site WeBuyBlack.com, Shareef Abdul-Malik says that the impact of this singular commercial event has significance beyond its surface.
“This year’s convention was deeper on a lot of levels because our people were brought to this country to be bought and sold,” said Abdul-Malik. “So, not only are we honoring our ancestors and how their struggle for freedom and justice got us where we are today, but we’re also reclaiming the effects of capitalism that enslaved us in the first place.”
At just 27, Abdul-Malik is already a veteran when it comes to connecting Black consumers with Black-owned businesses, but he hopes this convention helped get the Black community excited about the wide variety of high-quality products Black businesses have to offer and inspired others to become business owners themselves.
“Our mission is for the average Black family to be able to easily and efficiently buy everything they want and need from a Black vendor,” Abdul-Malik said. “We’ve been able to help business owners sell and market their goods, but now we need more Black manufacturers.”
With the theme “Setting the Precedent for the Next 400 Years”, the convention began with the Inaugural The Next 400 Gala, honoring Yusuf Salaam of the Central Park 5, Mo’Nique the comedian and entertainer, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf who preceded Kaepernick by 20 years and lost his NBA career due to his political stance, and lastly Dr. Key Hallmon of the Village Market ATL. The Gala was hosted by Derrick Boazman of WAOK 1380 Radio, and Cleveland Councilman Bashir Jones was the Keynote Speaker. There were only 400 tickets available to attend the Gala that evening.
The weekend included workshops on business ownership and manufacturing, alongside the vast array of Black-owned products that were sold. There were also B2B Speed Consulting Sessions and a “Shark Tank” style pitch competition called Pitch Black.
The event also boasted live performances from national and local recording artists, a Popcorn Competition, and a Children’s Village, where youth participants could engage with Black-owned brands and on their own level.
On Sunday, August 25th, The We Buy Black Convention was the United States satellite location for observance of the international moment of silence in commemoration for the 400 years. The weekend was full of notable moments in black history and it was definitely something that deserved our participation.
“…If you came to replenish your supply of toothbrushes or get your child a new backpack for school, you’ve contributed to something that will help generations of Black people,” he said. “I think our ancestors would be proud of what we’re trying to do.”
WeBuyBlack.com is the largest online marketplace for Black-owned businesses and individual sellers. By giving Black businesses and sellers access to a diverse, open, and international market, WeBuyBlack stimulates the circulation of wealth among the Black Diaspora and assists Black businesses in providing for families and communities at large.
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