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Urban League Breaks Ground at Burnt-Out QuikTrip Site

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Michael McMillan, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, wielded a shovel alongside Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, at the groundbreaking for a new community center at the site of the burnt-out QuikTrip in Ferguson. (Wiley Price/St. Louis American)

Michael McMillan, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, wielded a shovel alongside Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, at the groundbreaking for a new community center at the site of the burnt-out QuikTrip in Ferguson. (Wiley Price/St. Louis American)

By Mariah Stewart
Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American

The burnt-out QuikTrip convenience store that became a symbol of racial unrest after a police officer killed an unarmed black teenager nearby almost a year ago will soon reopen as a community center focused on job-training for African Americans.

The store was looted, burned and spray-painted “R.I.P. Mike Brown” before civilians pitched in and cleaned up the site. As rioting along West Florissant Road intensified, heavily armed police with armored vehicles pointed rifles at protesters and fired tear gas and “less lethal” projectiles into crowds.

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site on Thursday, July 9. Under a white tent sheltering dignitaries, Michael McMillan, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, said the organization aims to train and find employment for 500 young people in the region by the end of summer.

“After Michael Brown’s death, many young people in the community said they were not being listened to and their voices were not heard,” McMillan told the audience.

“We decided to go out and walk the streets of Ferguson and talk to people to find out what we could do as the Urban League to make a difference. Every single one of those young people said they needed jobs and economic opportunity in this area.”

Data collected by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis show unemployment among African Americans in the St. Louis region at 9.5 percent, compared with 4.8 percent for whites.

After talking with Ferguson youth, McMillan created the Urban League’s Save Our Sons initiative. McMillan said the program has already helped 100 young men find jobs. The new center built on the site of the torched QuikTrip will house Save Our Sons, as well as three other social services organizations: Provident, Better Family Life and Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

McMillan also announced that the construction crew for the new center will be a 100 percent African-American. Kwame Building Group will manage the construction, which is expected to be completed in early 2016.

QuikTrip donated the land and paid to demolish the ruined building and remediate the site. Enterprise Holdings and the Taylor Family gave a combined $1.8 million, and Centene Corporation donated $650,000. Another $1.5 million came from several other St. Louis-based companies, including Ameren, Emerson, Edward Jones, Armstrong Teasdale, and several civic organizations.

Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, attended the groundbreaking and said it points toward hope for the future in Ferguson. Morial said, “Building the Community Empowerment Center represents movement in a positive direction.”

This story is published as part of a partnership between The St. Louis American and The Huffington Post.

Bay Area

West Oakland Black Woman Owned Food Collective, “The Black Culinary Collective (BCC)”

“We are doing our part to change the narrative of excellence being categorized as an exception for black makers.

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   A group of Black women who own food businesses are rising from the devastation of the pandemic by sharing a commercial kitchen in West Oakland.

     The Black Culinary Collective (BCC) is led by Chef Reign Free, owner of Red Door Catering, which opened in 2006. 

    Red Door Catering has a 5,000-square-foot kitchen space.  During the pandemic Free’s catering business fell and her business was damaged during the protests.  

     Free also knew other Black chefs who didn’t have the money to rent commercial kitchen space during the pandemic.  

      And so, she applied to and received $50,000 from the Oakland Black Business Fund, which, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, is “an organization that aims to address Black entrepreneurs’ historical lack of access to capital, to help members join the collective rent-free.”

     The collective currently has four members (Teas With Meaning, Baby Bean Pie, Pound Business, and Final Sauce) and is looking for six more.  The members will share the kitchen, sell their goods to the public on-site, and collaborate on projects.  Members will also receive consultations, mentoring and advice on their food businesses.

     BCC hopes to open in August and will be located at 2925 Adeline St. Free continues to raise funds to help collective members have up to a year in the collective rent-free. 

     “It’s important for the people who work in the food and beverage industry to not only know how to cook, but to understand the history and the cultural significance of those that came before us,” Free told the Oakland Post. “We are doing our part to change the narrative of excellence being categorized as an exception for black makers. 

     “The companies that are a part of the collective have established the discipline that allows them to see their vision with clarity and purpose; having a beautiful space that supports learning, collaboration, and service allows us to continue to scale in ways that will positively affect the next generation. The more we share our gifts and talents within our community, the more our communities will thrive.”

 

     For more information, go to BlackCulinaryCollective.com

The San Francisco Chronicle, Mercury News, and Oaklandside.org were sources for this report.

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Bay Area

Good Day Cafe

Good Day Cafe is a black-owned business located in Vallejo,Ca

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 Good Day Cafe is a Black-owned cafe  located at 304 Georgia St. in Vallejo. Their hours are from 7:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Good Day Cafe serves Southern-style breakfast and lunch meals. They offer online orders, dine in, and delivery. Visit their website to learn more information https://gooddaycafevallejo.com/ and follow their instagram @gooddaycafevallejo

 

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Bay Area

Rush bowls

The perfect blend of all-natural fruits and veggies topped with delightfully crunchy, organic granola, a drizzle of honey, and your choice of fresh fruits and toppers.

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Rush bowls are the perfect blend of all-natural fruits and veggies topped with delightfully crunchy, organic granola, a drizzle of honey, and your choice of fresh fruits and toppers. Packed with nutrients and fully customizable, Rush bowls offer healthy, delicious alternatives to standard fast-casual fare. Rush bowls is open Mondays-Fridays from 10am-6pm at 350 17th Street, Oakland,CA 94619. Available for indoor dining, and delivery through GRUBHUBhttps://rushbowls.com/oakland

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