UrbanMain Community

UrbanMain Communities Stand Against Racism

June 24, 2020 | UrbanMain Communities Stand Against Racism

Birmingham.jpgMural by Shannon Harris. Photo credit: Mia Watkins.

In response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, the National Main Street Center’s President and CEO Patrice Frey shared a letter to the Network calling on Main Streets to be, “a force for good in addressing the challenge of racial inequity.” In the weeks that followed, we highlighted the ways in which  Main Street programs across the country did just that, standing up for racial justice and continuing to use their connections and platforms to address racial equity. Keep reading to learn more about ways UrbanMain communities are standing up against racism.

Promotions to support Black-owned businesses. Roslindale Village Main Street in Boston, Mass., launched a series of promotions to support Black-owned businesses in their district. Most recently, they’ve encouraged residents to order a custom Roslindale face mask from a local black-owned business. Residents who wear their recently purchased mask to the Grab-and-Go Farmers Market and post a selfie will be entered into a special raffle to win a $50 gift card to the Roslindale Village business of their choosing. Learn more.

Bail Bake Sale and business directory. District Bridges in Washington, DC, has been supporting a new initiative in their community. Called Bail Bake Sale, volunteers are gathering free or discounted baked items from grocery stores and bakeries to provide funds for racial justice assistance platforms, such as cash bail. They also compiled a list of local black-owned restaurants complete with photos and writeups on each business here.
Engaging with minority-owned businesses. Downtown Little Rock Partnership (DLRP) is offering free membership to minority-owned businesses in their first year with DLRP, as well as inviting minority-owned businesses who are members to serve on their boards and committees. DLRP also plans to host listening sessions with downtown minority residents and businesses to hear about changes they’d like to see downtown. Learn more.

Promoting organizations that support the Black community. Alberta Main Street in Portland, Oregon, is donating their Main Street office window space to organizations that support their neighborhood’s Black community. They plan to have organizations post information in their windows throughout the summer to spread the word about their meaningful work. Learn more.

Celebrating Juneteenth. Communities across the country recently celebrated Juneteenth, the oldest national commemoration of the ending of slavery in America, and districts across the network rallied their communities to celebrate. While, Oklahoma City’s 16th Street Plaza District had to postpone their in-person holiday gathering due to COVID-19, they encouraged the community to continue to support black artists and businesses who would have been featured by following them on social media, buying their art, visiting their businesses or donating to the nonprofits. Plaza businesses also donated a portion of their sales in support of nonprofits that support black communities.

Murals for hope and justice. A new mural on the exterior walls of Pho Hoa, a Vietnamese restaurant in Orlando’s Milk District now shares a call to action. In bold letters across the wall, the artist has written, “Breathe for Floyd.” Silhouettes of protesters chanting and holding signs are painted behind these words. The Milk District thanked both the artist (LOS ONE) and the local restaurant on their social media channels for their poignant addition to the downtown. View it here. After several businesses were damaged during civil unrest in downtown Birmingham, Alabama local artists and volunteers painted positive messages on boarded-up windows along pockets of downtown. The famous civil rights-era slogan “Birmingham, the world is watching” was painted, as well as a black and white portrait of George Floyd coupled with the phrase ‘Bham Strong.’ Learn more at REV Birmignham’s website.

This is just the beginning.

We look forward to continuing to share the ways in which Main Street communities are using their platforms and community connections to stand up for racial justice and equality. Main Street America is committed to the vision of shared prosperity, and is working to develop further resources for Main Street programs and small businesses. In the meantime, we encourage you to: 
If you have an initiative or resource you’d like to share, please consider adding it on The Point or email us at mainstreet@savingplaces.org.