Sam read this reflection on the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott during the AllEyesOnDC’s “Night of News and Music” event at Sankofa Video Books & Café (2714 Georgia Avenue NW) on the night of Tuesday, Dec. 1st. The version below was edited for clarity.
Sixty years ago today, police officers arrested Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. That event sparked off the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a more than 365-day campaign during which black people in that region refused to use public transportation. Black residents’ act of resistance against their oppressors forced a change in policy. Historians consider the Montgomery Bus Boycott one of the most effective economic protests led by people of African descent in the United States.
Legions of brothers and sisters carried on that tradition last weekend, refusing to shop with major corporations. Many took to the streets, protesting on shopping strips throughout the city and scouring local black businesses in search of holiday deals. This assault against the system and the black solitude that came out of it mirrored similar events across the country. In Chicago, Black Friday sales along the Magnificent Mile, its shopping district, fell by nearly 50 percent because of black agitators who posted up in that area. Now that’s what I call Black Power, as Willie Ricks and Stokely Carmichael eloquently exclaimed decades ago.
The question remains of whether we’ll follow in the footsteps of our Alabaman ancestors and carry out this boycott in D.C. and across the country in full force throughout the rest of the shopping holiday and into 2016. This grassroots reporter thinks it’s possible. He also thinks that black people can continue to support black business. However, that can only with the appropriate knowledge of where to shop for amenities, accessories, necessities and other materials vital to good living. I suggest IDontDoClubs.com, AfricanUnification.com, and BlkTown.com for information about local and national vendors.
Word of mouth also helps. Let’s follow the example of Miss Princess Best, the homegrown artist also known as the Hip Hop Momma. She hits Facebook and other mediums day in and day out to find black vendors for the things she need, even hipping me to a black seller of toilet paper in Baltimore. This is the only way to go.
Financial management is the key in the long haul game that is the attainment of our freedom. We can talk but for only so long. When the oppressor doesn’t listen, it helps to just take things to the next level, keeping quiet and letting our money. I close my “This Week in News” statement by encouraging you and yours to visit the websites I mentioned and make that conscious shift toward supporting black businesses. While doing so 100 percent may not be possible, it’s in our best interest to make an attempt and keep our dollars in our community for more than six hours. That’s real Black Power.