ORLANDO, Fla. – As Orlando observes Juneteenth city leaders are working to empower Black-business owners by hosting a week’s worth of events and business owners say they hope more exposure will inspire others.
News 6 talked with a variety of Black-owned businesses who say the city of Orlando recognizing Juneteenth creates an atmosphere of continued economic growth in minority communities helping to reach future generations who are looking for their own role models.
“We just need a chance to show that we are just like any other business,” said Joshua Johnson who owns Seana’s Caribbean and Soul Food Restaurant.
Johnson says minority representation in leadership for any industry is needed and important dates like Juneteenth can help inspire future leaders.
Juneteenth signifies the day the last African American slaves in Texas were informed they were free on June 19, 1865.
“We never go somewhere and say that’s a white business because it’s so normal so I really want it to get to a point where someone sees a Black business and its normal so that’s why Juneteenth, and creating awareness for more Black business, it moves us to that point,” Johnson said.
Orlando officials are hoping to help normalize Black businesses by hosting a webinar and other events leading up to Juneteenth.
“These events and this Juneteenth reaffirms the city’s commitment to ensure rights and privileges are available to Black Americans and all residents equally and that Orlando remains an inclusive, welcoming city for all,” the city said in a statement.
Dr. Cheryl Rouse, the owner of C&C Pharmacy, said while recognizing Juneteenth is important it’s also just as important for Black-owned businesses to give back to the community it serves.
“You know when Black kids come in here I talk to them about the grades and what they want to be and you know try and give some of that back of that what was instilled into me,” Rouse said.
For those looking to start their own business, Chris Louissant, the owner of FTAC Firearm and Training, suggests learning from those who paved the way.
“Get educated. There are a lot of programs that you can get involved in with training especially being a minority-owned business and depending on your county or city there are free training courses on accounting, time management, human resources take advantage of these things,” Louissant said.