The City of West Hollywood and Black Women Lead, a community-based nonprofit organization, hosted a Black Pop-Up Market at West Hollywood Park on Saturday, April 8, 2023, is support of Black owned businesses.
The free, open-air event featured Black vendors, panelists, and performers throughout the day at on the Great Lawn in West Hollywood Park. An Easter Bunny gave away treats, a food ticket got you a free vegan burger, fries and a drink by the Vurger Guyz food truck (on instagram at @vurgerguys) , and the music was non-stop throughout the day.
“This event is about unity and community where people can come out and support Black businesses and learn about our community,” said Founder Shannon Morton. “I feel that the more we learn about each other, the better we show up for each other. We have great panel discussions telling black and brown stories about diversity, equity and inclusion. We also have a panel on what you can do to support the Iranian women in their fight. We are discussing how we can support drag shows in Tennessee, how we support the Black community, and how we keep this going.”
This is the second year for the Black Pop-Up Market. Morton says she plans to keep hosting the event if the City welcomes them back. “It just keeps getting better and better,” she said. “We are always excited to see new faces and old faces and make new friends. I’d like West Hollywood residents, to keep building this community. Let’s keep growing and learning, and having empathy, and let’s keep making West Hollywood the best city to live in. I already think it’s the best city to live in, so let’s make it better.”
Vendors included several artists who displayed their art at the pop-up market.
Among the Black owned business was Qrows Feet apparel (qrowsfeet.com), founded by artist Reejaunte Auron, who says that crows feet are commonly known as lines that appear when smiling or laughing, but Qrows Feet reflects on People of Color whom survived through the oppression of Jim Crow laws, all while remaining resilient, loving beyond means, and stepping through obstacles everyday with a smile.
“We’ve been around for four years,” she said. “We launched in 2019, the same year one of my mentors passed away. I released my brand and then he was assassinated. He was a pillar in the community. Someone who really showed you that you can come from South Central and make it and stay consistent. His passing inspired me to go harder. I birthed my baby and then this legend was taken from me. It’s like he passed the torched. It was discouraging at first, but it’s every reason to keep going.”
Another artist was Kesi who was promoting her brand K3S1. According to her website at www.k3s1.com, she is an “artist, daughter, sister, friend, hustler, dreamer, and believer who is manifesting power, peace, and abundance in all areas of life.”
“I decided to put all of my art on t-shirts and hoodies,” she said. “I sell prints, and do everything from the writing on my apparel, down to the tie dyes, sewing the logos on the beanies, and I paint. I also have a book called ‘Live Love Lesbian’ about poetry and art and the women who have influenced me in my life. To me art is not one thing. Art is not perfect. It comes in many different forms and you have to be fearless.”
We also met Prince who is from Tanzania East African (on Instagram at @africanchildorganics. He runs African Child Organics which launched in 2020, specializing in selling organic fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs for teas. He’s also a singer who gave a performance at the pop up. People lined up to buy his fresh cold coconut water straight out of a coconut. “We are out here at the Black Women lead market,” he said “I want to thank Shannon for inviting me. We are offering fresh coconut water to everyone. It is organic and every time I drink it, it makes me happy.”
Black Women Lead is a community-based nonprofit organizations that is committed to amplifying the voices of Black women and underrepresented communities. Black Women Lead was created with a fundamental belief in the strength and power of communities and allies, and in harnessing the collective ability of each of us to develop our personal power and contribute to dismantling systems of injustice and inequity. The organization relentlessly pursues its promise to speak out against discrimination and systemic racism through advocacy, activism, and community-led events.
The Black Women Lead Pop-Up Market is part of the City of West Hollywood’s celebration of Black History Month each February recognizing, celebrating, and honoring the rich and diverse history and important contributions and achievements of African Americans. The event was postponed due to rain.