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New Orleans

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Teen Entrepreneur Creates a Product to Help Facilitate Safer Traffic Stops

David Price is the 19 year old creator of The Safety Pouch, a tool to help facilitate interactions between civilians and police.

The fluorescent orange pouch holds vehicle documents and identification in one place and clips on to the exterior window to minimize the amount of movement within the vehicle and keeping hands visible at all times.

David, a sophomore at Loyola University in New Orleans, created The Safety Pouch during his Freshman year. We caught up with David to find out more about his business.

David Price, creator of The Safety Pouch | Photo credit: DOUG MacCASH

What inspired you to create The Safety Pouch.

The biggest thing that inspired me to create The Safety Pouch was having “The Talk” with my parents when I first started driving. I knew I had to develop some kind of product that would help facilitate safer traffic stop interactions between Black drivers and law-enforcement. That’s when I came up with the concept.

What are the biggest advantages and biggest challenges you feel you might have as a teen entrepreneur?

The most significant advantage I have is that more people are willing to help support me. It is also easier for me to network with people because many people tend to want to mentor younger people since we are more malleable.

The biggest downside is that some people often do not take teen entrepreneurs seriously. I am forced to have to prove myself and how much I know at times.

Photo credit: DOUG MacCASH

What are your future goals as an entrepreneur?

My biggest goal is to continue to innovate and grow my business with the focus of making the world a safer place.

What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?

Network Network Network! Always connect with as many people as you can. You never know what opportunities can emerge from those connections or who those people could be connected to. Always take advantage of making connections and partnerships with people or companies.

Tony O. Lawson


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2020 Essence Fest postponed amid Louisiana Coronavirus concerns

The 2020 Essence Festival is being postponed and moved “closer to the fall” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in Louisiana, organizers announced Friday on their website.

It’s the latest festival change in the New Orleans area as COVID-19 cases in the state swelled to 2,746 with 119 deaths, with the highest concentration in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

2020 Essence Fest

Essence Communications Inc., the festival’s parent company, said the decision was made to move the five-day multifaceted event from its original July 1-5 schedule “based on developments over the past couple of weeks, including updates from our city and health partners.”

Previously announced talent, which includes headliners Janet Jackson and Bruno Mars, will remain on the lineup for the postponed dates, and tickets sold for the originally scheduled performances will still be honored on the new dates.

New dates for the festival will be announced “shortly.”

The 26th edition of the Essence Fest is set to include two extra days of activities to commemorate the 50th anniversary year of Essence magazine, along with the annual three-night evening concert series in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Tens of thousands of attendees fill the Morial Convention Center for free daytime activities that include panel discussions and product presentations.

Essence Fest organizers previously said they intended to move forward with the July 1-5 timeframe, but also said they were already looking to identify and secure alternate dates.

 

Source: NOLA.com

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Delta Sigma Theta donates 17,000 Meals To New Orleans Disaster Relief

The Delta Sigma Theta sorority donated 17,000 meals to disaster relief efforts in New Orleans after it was forced to cut their biennial national convention short this weekend due to ongoing Tropical Storm Barry.

delta sigma theta
Source: New Orleans Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Facebook

According to The Washington Post, nearly 16,000 people were expected to attend the convention this weekend. But the sorority decided to end the convention ahead of schedule after the storm caused heavy flooding across the Gulf Coast and prompted tens of thousands of homes to lose power.

delta sigma theta
Credit: David Grunfeld – NOLA.com

But Beverly E. Smith, the national president and CEO of the sorority, told the newspaper that members of the sorority were “delighted” to donate food intended for their luncheon to recovery efforts.

“There was inordinate amounts of food that would have been wasted,” she told The Post.

The sorority donated the food to the Second Harvest Food Bank, which will distribute the meals to people affected by the storm in New Orleans and areas nearby.

“To have all these meals ahead of time is really a godsend,” Jay Vise, the communications director for the food bank, told the paper.

delta sigma theta
Latiya White, left, Gina Murray and Gina Holmes, members of Delta Sigma Theta from Atlantic City, N.J., stand in the French Quarter (Washington Post)

Vise added that he feels the food donated – which ranges from macaroni and cheese, chicken, chocolate cake and potatoes au gratin – could also help cheer up victims who have been hit hard by the storms and have limited resources to prepare their own meals.

According to CNN, the storm made landfall in Louisiana on Saturday. At the time, Barry had been categorized as a Category 1 hurricane. However, the storm has since weakened and is currently being labelled a tropical storm.

Source: The Hill

Also read: Oo-oop! Why I’m So Glad I Pledged Alpha Chapter, DST

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We Dat’s Grew from a Food Truck to Multiple Locations and an NBA Partnership

Three years ago, We Dat’s founder, Greg Tillery started We Dat Food truck and began selling wings from the truck, outside nightclubs and by a car wash.

We Dat’s founder, Greg Tillery

Today, that food truck has grown into We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp and has two locations. Greg also has his own seasoning line and has just signed a partnership with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.

He says he was inspired to start a food truck after watching “Food Truck Wars” on Food Network. After struggling initially, he eventually started to build a following online and offline.

 

we dat's
Greg with Gerald Bridges, Corporate Partnerships Exec for New Orleans Saints and Pelicans

 

He credits fellow New Orleans native, Supa Cent with bringing his business a lot of attention via an online shout out.

While the specific details of the deal are unclear, we can imagine it involves selling food to sports fans in New Orleans.


Contact info: 

1407 Canal St. New Orleans, LA  (504) 252-4927 and  4500 Old Gentilly Rd. New Orleans, LA (504) 605-995


-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG@thebusyafrican)

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12 Black Entrepreneurs Fighting Gentrification in New Orleans

Black entrepreneurs and business owners are getting pushed out of New Orleans as gentrification brings an influx of affluent white newcomers to the city and real estate becomes more expensive. Businesses owned by people of color have shuttered in historically Black neighborhoods including Treme, St. Roch, and Gentilly.

(credit: NOLA.com)

Although 40 percent of the city’s businesses are Black-owned, they receive only 2 percent of business, said Trace Allen, neighborhood program manager at Propeller, a 501c3 nonprofit, business incubator, and coworking space that addresses economic disparity and racial justice in New Orleans.

To combat gentrification on South Broad Street, Propeller launched South Broad Business Initiative (SBBI), a free five-month program that provides technical support, co-working space, and mentorship to entrepreneurs of color.

“When a brick and mortar succeeds, there are long-lasting positive effects,” said Catherine Gans, marketing and communications manager at Propeller. “Longterm, looking at the (SBBI) program, we hope to provide our businesses with the opportunity to become neighborhood anchors.”

Below, find a list of SBBI-supported businesses bringing “equitable economic development to their neighborhood.”

Black Entrepreneurs fighting gentrification in New Orleans

A Priority One (209 S. Broad Street) is a local family-owned and operated rental car company providing low rates for daily and weekly rentals since 2001.

black entrepreneurs
James Washington Sr. & James Washington Jr. (Credit: Propeller)

NOLA Organic Spa (213 S. Broad Street)

Mackie One Construction (4014 Erato Street)

Emerald Services (4134 Washington Avenue) is a financial services company that provides tax preparation, bookkeeeping, and credit repair to individuals, as well as small businesses.

black entrepreneurs
Ty Davis (Credit: Propeller)

We Bleed Ink Tattoo Shop (4140 Washington Avenue)  is a premier tattoo and piercing studio with a focus on high quality, custom artwork and impeccable customer service.

Trevone Sansom (Credit: Propeller)

The Godbarber Beauty Salon (219 S. Broad Street)

Daiquiri Lounge (4201 Washington Avenue)

Umoja Visions  (4101 Washington Ave ) manufactures and sells a comprehensive hair care treatment system for men, women, and children with excessively curly hair.

Beverly D. Smith (Credit: Propeller)

Chef D’z Café (424 S. Broad Street) is a full service restaurant and catering company.

Chef Donald Smith (Credit: Propeller)

Custom Optical (3137 Benefit Street)

All-Pro Maintenance (2915 Perdido Street)

The Lipstiq Lady Cosmetics provides high-quality, non-toxic, vibrant hair and skin care products.

Tara Simmons (Credit: Propeller)

 

Business owners of color can apply for the SBBI program here.

Source: Curbed New Orleans

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Black Owned Restaurants in New Orleans

New Orleans is known for everything from the food and music to the rich history and cultural traditions. Because of this we’ve decided to shine a spotlight on some black owned restaurants in New Orleans.

Black Owned Restaurants in New Orleans

Dooky Chase Restaurant opened its doors for business in 1941. Here, legendary Creole chef Leah Chase serves down-home staples in a vibrant, art-filled space.

Lil’ Dizzy’s Cafe is a no-frills joint for soul-food breakfasts & lunches plus a buffet option & dinners some nights.

The Praline Connection is a plain-&-simple restaurant serving down-home Southern dishes & signature pralines for dessert.

Neyow’s is an informal establishment supplying Creole & other Southern-inspired dishes & cocktails.

Ray’s On The Ave is a Creole Soul Food Restaurant and Music Venue. Close to downtown in the historic Treme Neighborhood.

Ma Momma’s House of Cornbread, Chicken, and Waffles is the place where you can enjoy the quintessential food experience that exemplifies New Orleans Creole Cuisine.

Sassafras Creole Kitchen serves an array of traditional Cajun-Creole dishes in a convivial atmosphere.

14 Parishes is a family-run Central City joint that dishes up homeland classics like beef patties and jerk chicken paired with sides like sweet plantains and cornbread.

Black Owned Restaurants in New Orleans

Willie Mae’s is a family-owned spot since 1957, famous for fried chicken & other soul food in a humble setting.

Loretta’s Authentic Pralines has been in business for over 35 years. Its a corner sweets shop making local treats like pralines, pies, cookies & king cake.

Meal from the Heart Cafe is a major tourist destination. Their signature is on the entire menu, but their crab cakes and gumbo are renown.

Compère Lapin is a sophisticated eatery serving Caribbean- and European-accented takes on New Orleans flavors.

Cafe Sbisa , established in 1899, is the third oldest fine-dining establishment in the French Quarter. They are proud to offer the highest quality French-Creole cuisine in a welcoming, historical setting.

Pressed Cafe is a sandwich shop, selling panini style sandwiches with soups and salads.

Sweet Soul-food is a vegan restaurant that offers delectable dishes at budget-friendly prices.

Cafe Abyssinia is a vegetarian platters & other traditional Ethiopian dishes offered in a cozy, colorful eatery.

 

– Oluremi Lawson

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Why Are There So Few Black-Owned Grocery Stores?

The full-service supermarket that Circle Food Store owner Dwayne Bourdeaux runs in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward is clean and stocked with locally sourced produce that arrives with days to spare.

Dwayne Bourdeaux, owner Circle Food Store

The butcher cuts meat daily in the store and offers not only standard cuts, but also items that are locally popular—raccoon, pig lips, pig ears, rabbit, and so on.

Concerned about the rate of diabetes and hypertension among African-Americans—the majority of his customers—Bourdeaux not only sells healthy food, but also incentivizes it by offering $5 worth of free, fresh produce to those who spend $5 on it.

“You should serve the community, because it’s not all about making money,” says Boudreaux, an African-American in his early 40s, who lives seven minutes from the store he has worked at nearly his whole life, before taking it over from his father. “I’d sell more liquor, alcohol, cigarettes, and fried foods if I wanted to make more money.”

Dwayne Boudreaux in Circle Foods.

Dwayne Boudreaux in Circle Foods. (Photo courtesy of Hope Credit Union)

But, he continues, “to be a part of the community, you don’t take the money out of the community and not reinvest it back into it. It’s like a family—you have to nurture it, you have to provide for it, you have to look out for people. To be a part of the community, you have got to care.”

His is a rare success in Black and brown communities nationwide, but not for lack of effort. In fact, Boudreaux is one of the nation’s few remaining Black people operating full-service supermarkets.

No organizations track the number, but sources familiar with the situation and some of the remaining grocers suggest that fewer than 10 Black-owned supermarkets remain across the entire country.

And the number continues to shrink: In the past two years alone, Sterling Farms in New Orleans, Apples and Oranges in Baltimore, and several branches of Calhoun’s in Alabama have all gone out of business.

This is problematic because strong anchor businesses like grocery stores can serve as the center of neighborhood economies, recirculating local revenues through wages and nearby businesses. They can also be neighborhood hubs, where people go to buy good food as well as employment centers and sources of community pride.

Kia Patterson, owner of Compton Grocery Outlet

But where there are no grocery stores, or where they’re not enmeshed in the fabric of the community, problems arise: Grocery store ownership directly ties to larger struggles and themes like economic stability, self-determination, power, control, and racial and class stratification, says Malik Yakini.

Yakini is the director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, an organization that builds self-reliance, food security, and justice in Detroit’s Black community. When a neighborhood loses a local grocery store, he says, the African-American community essentially becomes what he describes as a “domestic colony.”

“[Black neighborhoods] are seen as a place for the more dominant economy to sell things,” Yakini says. “We’re more interested in building community, self-determination, and self-reliance. We’re interested in being more than consumers of goods that others bring to sell, and often goods that are inferior to what’s sold in the white community.

“We’re not a place to dump cheap goods,” Yakini continues. “African-American communities need to be producers of goods and stand eyeball to eyeball and shoulder to shoulder to other economic groups. Those that haven’t are subject to all sorts of abuse.”

Read the full article at Civil Eats

 

Related:  First Black Owned Grocery Store Franchise Opens in Compton

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Why This New Orleans Yoga Studio Plans to Expand into West Africa

Adrianne “Ajax” Jackson is the owner of the Only Black owned Yoga studio in New Orleans. During a recent chat with her about her upcoming one year anniversary, she mentioned an interest in expanding her business to Nigeria or Ghana.

Adrianne “Ajax” Jackson

Since Shoppe Black is all about bridging the gap between Black folks on the continent and in the diaspora, we were curious to find out what inspired this decision.

This is what she had to say:

Expanding to  West Africa

A big part of what I do is traveling and building relationships with people all over the world. It is inexplicably beautiful to meet people who are seemingly so different from you only to realize how alike we all really are.

Expanding to West Africa came to me in a very clear vision; a yoga & meditation hub on the coast of West Africa! I could see the windows, the architecture & the landscaping! Intuitively I knew that would be the next big venture.

WHY?

As a Black woman and as a yoga teacher, I recognize the yearning for self knowledge in my students and in the Black community.

West Africa is a crucial part of our history and our heritage. Expanding there would enable me to use yoga as a bridge between my community here and communities there.

The literal meaning of the word ‘yoga’ is union, and I think there is something incredibly special and revolutionary in being able to unite two communities of shared heritage through something as positive and healing as yoga practice.

New Orleans Motivation

Watching new students, especially black men, explore yoga and begin to recognize the benefits for themselves is extremely rewarding.

These kinds of revelations that I see regularly, have sparked the desire to extend my student reach and also offer my students even more than the gift of yoga.

This community motivates and inspires me to build a close knit, cross-continental community that fosters the encouragement and support I work to continuously offer my students.

First year in business

Throughout this year of owning Magnolia Yoga Studio I have become increasingly aware of our communal hunger to reclaim our health, power, and self discovery.

We deserve and need know who we are. The practice of yoga and bridge to our ancestral land is a beautiful, transformational, and revolutionary way of learning and understanding ourselves as well as connecting with the diaspora in West Africa.

 Yoga is the Key

I hope to inspire a collective healing through yoga and rediscovery of our identity as member of the African diaspora. I deeply believe that yoga is a key component to who we are as a people and where we are going. I love to be able to cast a wider net as to who I can encourage to practice yoga.

It is so essential in stress reduction, connecting with our bodies, and loving ourselves. I believe that each individual deserves to experience these benefits.

The Goal

I would love to see this expansion foster personal and genuine relationships between my students in New Orleans and West Africa.

I hope that this goal of blending yoga and diasporic community building will become part of a larger realization that yes, yoga makes sense as a healing process and practice that will bring us closer.

– Sierra Armstrong & Adrianne “Ajax” Jacskon

Find out more about Magnolia Yoga Studio and their events here.

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Magnolia Yoga Studio: The First Black Owned Yogo Studio in New Orleans

I took my first yoga class a couple years ago. I was initially reluctant because I didn’t consider yoga to be a real workout. I was sadly mistaken.

That class kicked my ass and forced me to put some “respek” on yoga’s name. I now understand how important the art form of yoga is, and was eager to speak with Ajax Jaxon, owner of Magnolia Yoga Studio.

This is what she had to say:

SB: How did you become interested in yoga?

AJ: In 2003, I met a very sweet older man from Iceland named Frosty. He invited me to my first yoga class and I agreed.

I was completely clueless that this decision would catapult me to my greatest passion and life’s work! I loved my first yoga class and wanted more once it was over.

I started practicing and made it a big part of my everyday life. It took another four years, turning 30 and getting laid off for me to take another leap of faith and become an internationally certified yoga teacher.

SB: How can yoga be used for different types of healing?  

AJ: Yoga is a healing art form, a discipline and an ancient technology still very relevant for our modern day illnesses. The Yoga approach is comprehensive, working with the multiple facets of who we are as people. All dimensions are touched on as you get deeper and deeper into the practice. However, the most fundamental level of healing that yoga addresses is the physical body.

We then move to the mind and, once the mind-body connection is in sync, one starts to explore the emotional body and energetic body. This tends to be the order but it’s not set in stone, as yoga reaches each person in different ways. I always say a yoga practice is one of the most intimate things a person can experience.

Yet, people often don’t initially know why they like yoga or return for classes. It can be elusive and hard to put into words. It’s ancestral, natural and mythical, as yoga is said to be a gift from Mother Nature to humanity. It’s ours to use and benefit from.

However, let’s briefly break down the physical healing that occurs with yoga, especially hot yoga. Two systems are being intentionally used to bring forth health, energy, vitality, healing and well-being. First, you address the respiratory system with the huge amounts of deep breathing done from the very beginning of class to the very end. The respiratory system is assisted by the circulatory system, which increases due to all the movement and the heat, which speeds up the blood flow 2-3 times faster than normal.

The heat also thins the blood, allowing blood to flow into places inside the body that don’t receive sufficient blood flow throughout the day due to a sedentary lifestyle. This blood become so rich with oxygen from all the deep breathing, and the postures then deliver all this rich oxygenated blood throughout the entire body to every organ, gland, muscle, joint and bone. It’s a simple yet significant science. Most illnesses and diseases, if you trace them back far enough, start due to poor circulation.

So, we increase the blood flow and oxygen levels by practicing in the heat the series of 26 posture and 2 breathing exercises at Magnolia Yoga. This combo takes each student through every system of the body, nourishing the body with the basics it needs to naturally heal.

The postures also create space in the body so that the spine can naturally shift back into its proper alignment. The same shift is happening with the internal organs and glands. In addition practicing yoga reduces stress when you reduce stress one supports the immune system protecting the body from illness & disease.

With a regular and consistent practice, I have personally experienced these benefits and as a full time teacher I have been able to help countless others reduce, reverse and completely eliminate a wide range of issues including asthma, stress, insomnia, depression, anxiety, diabetes, blood pressure, thyroid issues, reduced range of motion, a wide range of serious spinal injuries and pain, joint pain, migraines, bronchitis, heart conditions, tendonitis, arthritis, weight management and low self-esteem. I have also seen Yoga Increase self-acceptance, self-confidence and self-love within my students.

SB: Do you feel more Black people should take an interest in yoga. And why? 

 AJ: I would absolutely love to inspire, encourage and ultimately support Black folks and their yoga journey.  I became certified to teach everyone with a personal aspiration to reach out to people of color and men.

These two demographics would benefit tremendously from a regular yoga practice. African-Americans, in particular, suffer from the highest numbers of physical and mental health conditions, as well as societal concerns.

Photo credit: Peter Koloff

Yoga can help us tremendously take our health and power back. In a yoga class, one gets this golden opportunity to reflect, reorganize and remember what is really important, who we really are and what we really aspire for ourselves as a collective and as individuals.

Life can be busy and hectic and it’s so easy to get bogged down and clogged up with negative thoughts and mental debris. Within a yoga class one gets a chance to clear out so new, creative and positive thoughts have a chance to percolate.

yoga

Yoga is usually last on everyone’s list. Once they tried everything else, then they try yoga. As a race, I profoundly feel we are at the end our list. We have tried so many things and have seen some progress, but it’s time to go deeper.

It’s imperative to find time to go within. I think yoga and meditation is one of the most revolutionary acts one can do, because, for up to 1 or 2 hours a day, you tell the world you are unavailable.

Whether it is your kids, boss, students or clients, you model for them that you come first and in order for you to serve them or anyone, you first have to serve yourself.

So, yes, we need yoga for physical and mental health,  but also to help us to continue to self-realize and to help follow through with our next steps as minorities in this country where our positions, rights and health are not guaranteed.

Yoga
Photo Credit: Kee’s Little Feet Photography

SB: What challenges did you encounter while trying to get the business set up?  

AJ: Aside from raising capital and staying on budget for a brand new build out, I had to dig deep in my private moments to resurrect enough belief in myself.

I had to pray and meditate on whether or not I would have the passion, stamina, expertise and grace to run a yoga studio committed to helping people through the challenges we go through in life.

I quickly noticed how the Universe was making many things easy for me, which gave me a lot of confidence that my destiny was manifesting and not even I could stop it.

In addition to this, right before I signed my lease, my Godson was diagnosed with leukemia. He lives in California and I had to rush out there and tend to him through this life threatened diagnosis, while the building of the studio commenced.

For a good period of time, I was very unsure about moving forward with opening a studio in New Orleans. After consulting with him, the rest of my family and our team of doctors I went ahead and took another huge leap of faith and signed a 5-year lease agreement to open Magnolia Yoga.

Since then, he has been doing well, with some setbacks. Through an amazing family support system and me flying back and forth, we are doing our best to support him through his cancer treatment.

The beauty through this particular challenge and other tough ones is that I now know what it takes to support a family member through cancer, and I can teach and support others from my experience. A true leader leads from experience.

 

SB: What is the most gratifying part about what you are doing?

AJ: There are a few things that give me gratification and one is when the yoga room is filled with people of color, men in particular! When that happens? I know my message is reaching and penetrating my target audience. But, the most gratifying part of my work is when people tell me how much better they are feeling.

How well they are sleeping through the night and how they can bend and move in ways they haven’t been able to in years. How their doctors are reducing and removing medications because their blood pressure has improved or their energy and metabolism has boosted and they don’t need as much or any thyroid meds.

Basically, when students share with me how the yoga is working for them. And these results often happens right away! Those stories and testimonies of stress relief and having more harmonious relationships with their kids and coworkers keeps me super motivated.

SB:What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

AJ: I think unrelenting belief in yourself is a priority. Having the commitment to your business and service is paramount, which means doing all that you can to help it grow.

This includes taking care of yourself and eating and sleeping well, as much as one might be out networking and building community connections.  To look at building your business as a person-by-person endeavor that requires an authentic connection and passion is essential!

 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson

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Shoppe Black presents: “Jollof and Jambalaya” bka The Blackest Wedding Ever

On November 19th 2016, I married my soulmate. It was a perfect blend of her New Orleans roots and my Nigerian culture. One of the things I learned is how African the city of New Orleans is and how connected we are as a people.

15078640_10155998596237925_5768398093096862428_n
Photo Credit: Delphine Fawundu

Friends and family came to celebrate from all over the world and we made sure they had the time of their lives.

One of the things that touches us the most are the messages we are getting from friends and strangers telling us how much they needed to be a part of or see something like this.

15168864_10104597810857063_90787969658543068_o

Especially right now, when the world is telling us that our lives are insignificant, that our joy does not matter, that our humanity is questionable.

Photo credit: Nicola Omatsola
Photo credit: Nicola Omatsola

If nothing else, our celebration is not only a symbol of the love we have for one another, and that of the community that surrounds us but that Black Love Matters. It’s political. It’s resistance. It’s ancient. It’s powerful. Nobody can take that away from us.

15128874_1218629144863090_8558493377066745002_o
Photo Credit: Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

We’ll get more into details soon but for now, enjoy these videos that include the second line that took place right after the wedding ceremony and the photo shoot turned music video. Shout out to Alex K. Colby, our amazing filmmaker and friend who directed, produced and edited all of this amazing footage.

#jollofandjambalaya

#blackestweddingever

 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson