By AFRO Staff
More than 300 people were killed, 99 years ago, in a massacre that destroyed booming African-American businesses and took the lives of entrepreneurs in a Tulsa, Oklahoma neighborhood called Greenwood, an area otherwise known as “Black Wall Street.” In commemoration of Black Wall Street, Black History Month and a love for fashion, Joy Copeland, founder and CEO of The Joy of Styling, held the first annual “Boss-ish: Black Business Market,” on Feb. 9 at the Silver Spring Civic Center, where about 200 guests had the opportunity to interface with more than 30 vendors, eat, network, witness live entertainment and honor local community leaders and organizations.
Guests from all over the DMV got a glimpse of the possibilities of a Black Wall Street, all the while learning and being tested on Black history and celebrating local leaders and organizations dedicated to the empowerment of Black people. Under the theme, “They Sacrificed So We Could Succeed,” Boss-ish: Black Business Market, not only encouraged guests to meet local entrepreneurs and learn and be tested on their Black history facts, the event also allowed them the opportunity to honor those ancestors who paved the way for such an event and a moment to consider attendees’ own life and legacy.
This was not the run-of-the-mill Black history event.
“All I could do is look around and smile because I could feel the energy of excellence in the room,” Copeland said. “That energy was unmatched and that’s how I knew the Boss-ish guests didn’t just attend another Black History Month event, they welcomed the experience that we created to celebrate our history.”
The emcees, fashion historian, curator and co-host of the Fashion Victims podcast Darnell Jamal and AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor Micha Green, kept the energy high by reading Black history facts and engaging the crowd with giveaways, trivia and more. In addition, audiences remained entertained at the market with live performances from: spoken word artist Tahir Basilio, socially conscious rapper CT Romeo and a serenade from singer Sa’Miya.
In addition to the entertainment, Boss-ish: Black Business Market honored two entrepreneurs and two organizations making a major difference in the community and the lives of people of color.
Breyonna Pinkney of the Pinkney Promise Foundation, which raises awareness and offers inspiration and resources about Black mental health wellness and Darryl Perry, a community outreach coordinator who has organized several service-based initiatives, were both honored with the “For the Culture Awards.”
WeInspire&Co and the Creative School received the “Heritage Awards,” as part of the Joy of Styling’s efforts to raise awareness on local organizations working to positively influence the community. WeInspire&Co works daily to serve as an inspiration for the community, nurture the lives of young people and encourage positive mental health. The Creative School targets local students from ages 8-18 and pairs them with leaders from various fields to “design connections,” or as the organization puts it, “solve problems through connection.” Further, The Creative School asks students the question, “How might we spread peace in our neighborhood?”
“Boss-ish: Black Business Market is everything I could have dreamed of. I’m honestly still in disbelief of what my team and I put together in as little as four months,” Copeland said.