KENT, Wash. - Across the country, August is recognized as National Black Business Month. This is the 14th year the month has been dedicated to amplifying the voices of black business owners. In today’s social climate, more communities are using this time to support fellow neighbors.
Celebrating black-owned businesses is a focus for the City of Kent. All month long, the city is using social media to highlight black businesses and entrepreneurs.
“For us, this is step forward to show our black-owned businesses and our residents we support you enough to want to be able to talk about you, celebrate you, and share the good news. And, it’s [the] recognition that’s long been deserved in a way that we can take a concrete action,” said Mayor Dana Ralph.
Action is what Ralph said is needed more than ever as communities strive for social justice. She said something so simple like supporting black business is an easy way to help bridge gaps.
“It’s not good enough for us to say we support our diverse community. We have to prove that and we want to prove that every single day. And celebrating National Black Business Month is a fabulous way to prove that we mean what we say,” said Ralph.
When customers visit Nana’s Southern Kitchen in Kent, a family business, the family is how they’re treated. With recipes handed down five generations from great-grandma Nana, the business thrives on making people feel at home.
“She used her food to bring people together, teach life lessons and welcome everybody,” said restaurant owner Todd Minor.
An inclusive space is important to Minor. He said in these times of civil unrest, it’s encouraging to see the community support black-owned business like his. Through that support, Minor said he was able to hire 14 people who didn’t have high school educations.
“And they were actually able to get their GED, they’ve been able to get apartments here, cars here and that’s because of the support of the local community supporting this black-owned business,” said Minor. “Whether it be my black-owned business or any other African American owned business, the fact that you took an opportunity to try something new and give businesses a shot, well done. Thank you so much.”
Kathy Jo Miller Taylor, the owner of KJ’s Cakery Bakery Sweet Shop in Kent, said her family business has seen huge gains from community support.
“What’s been an eye-opener for me is I didn’t even realize the number of black-owned businesses in the state of Washington. And, I’m truly honored and blessed and happy that so many businesses are being recognized because there’s a lot of good businesses here,” said Miller Taylor. “I just think it brings more positive awareness that we have some really good businesses out there that want to provide quality product.”
“It’s necessary that people are finally hearing our voices and seeing that we matter and seeing that we are people just like everyone else. So it’s really great people are supporting us and rallying around us,” said Kaila Taylor, daughter, and manager at the bakery.