Tempe has a dense history of African American contributions. From Benton James, the first African American graduate of ASU (1924), to Clovis Campbell, the first African American to be elected to the Arizona State Senate (1972), and most recently, Corey Woods, the first African American to serve on the Tempe City Council and be elected mayor.
These historical contributions show progress, but we all know there is still a lot of work to do. It wasn’t long ago that African Americans weren’t even allowed to purchase homes in Tempe. Before the 1960s, African Americans were barred from owning homes in Tempe but fast forward to today, Tempe now has its first African American mayor!
In honor of Black History Month, the Downtown Tempe Authority reflects on the past and strives towards a more inclusive future.
Diversity, inclusion, equity, and equality are at the heart of what we do every day. For example, we’ve made it a priority to seek artists of color for a majority of our public art and art activations (i.e., Art Drops). Just recently, we gathered three artists of color to create Project: Spread the Love. During last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, we believed a message of love from a group of diverse artists would be a small, but positive gesture towards a hurting community. This effort was recognized at the City of Tempe’s Martin Luther King Jr. Awards when our very own Jazmine Reyes was awarded the City’s diversity award for her work in creating a more diverse and inclusive downtown Tempe.
While we reflect on the important contributions of the African American community in Tempe and Arizona, this pandemic has shown us the importance of supporting each other. Now, more than ever, it is important to support small businesses, especially those that are minority owned. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently released that minority-owned small businesses have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic. Over 78 percent of minority-owned businesses have the fear of being forced to close, compared to only 57 percent of white owned small businesses.
During Black History Month and every month of the year, we urge you to support Black owned businesses. Here is a list of Black-owned business in downtown Tempe.
Personal Care & Services
While we know this list needs to grow, we are forever thankful for our minority owned businesses and hope more Black and minority owned businesses will make downtown Tempe their home in the near future.
Our organization’s ongoing mission is to continue finding ways to support our downtown community and to understand how we can make our downtown more accessible for minority business owners. Follow our work at www.downtowntempe.com.
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