TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A civil rights organization dedicated to empowering the black community has made a comeback during the pandemic.
The Tucson Urban League celebrated the anniversary of its Economic Heritage Market on Saturday.
“We come out once a month, we get small black business and micro businesses a chance to sell their wears, to make new customers," said Sam Brown, President of Dunbar Coalition.
“It gives all of us different business owners a chance to connect with each other and our community in a more hands-on type of way,” said Raphael Jackson, Co-owner of Pies the Limit.
The market is part of a larger effort to restructure the organization and connect with the black community in Tucson.
“In the past we focused on building a lot of different programs and making sure we’re out in the community," said Keneshia Raymond, Interim Executive Director of the Urban League. "This time I'm focusing on what the community tells me.”
In 2020, the Tucson Urban League changed its leadership and ideology. Since then, the organization has focused on empowering people of color through education, social justice, and economy.
“The thing that was missing is community," Raymond said. "For us in the black community it’s really about bringing each other together and lifting each other up.”
The organization has a new Economic Development Committee that finds ways to support black-owned businesses. The committee partners with the University of Arizona to offer business classes and training.
“Since working with them and the Dunbar, its helped us expand our business which got us into a cloud kitchen," Jackson said. "Now we’re doing delivery, carryout, we’re still doing the markets and such.”
The new leadership also revamped their eviction prevention, rental assistance, and tutoring programs.
“Just finding ways to connect and stay close to each other and build on each others ideas and each others strengths in better ways in this new era,” Brown said.
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