Black History Month is not only a time for reflection and celebration of Black history and culture; it’s also an opportunity to recognize and support the role of Black entrepreneurship in shaping our community. Richmond stands as a beacon of this entrepreneurial spirit, with a rich history of Black business ownership that has contributed significantly to the city’s cultural and economic landscape.

Father and son Black business owners stand behind jewelry counter

Waller & Company Jewelers

Richmond’s Legacy as a Hub for Black Entrepreneurship

Richmond’s history as a hub for Black entrepreneurship dates back to the era of Reconstruction and beyond, when African Americans, despite facing systemic barriers, began to establish businesses and institutions that would serve their communities and create a foundation for future generations. Jackson Ward, often referred to as the “Harlem of the South,” emerged as a thriving center of African American culture and business, showcasing the resilience and innovation of the Black community.

This historic neighborhood was home to a bustling economy of Black-owned banks, insurance companies, and other businesses that not only provided essential services but also played a crucial role in advocating for civil rights and economic empowerment. The legacy of pioneering entrepreneurs like Maggie L. Walker, the first female bank president of any race in the United States, and John Mitchell Jr., a civil rights activist and newspaper editor, continues to inspire today’s generation of Black business owners in Richmond and beyond.

A Black business owner holds a giant dog

Diamonds and Dutch Pet Bath and Spa

Supporting Black-Owned Businesses in Richmond Today

The spirit of entrepreneurship and community empowerment is alive and well in Richmond, with a diverse array of Black-owned businesses contributing to the city’s vibrant culture and economy. From culinary gems like Mama J’s, offering a taste of home-cooked Southern food, to innovative enterprises like The Hippodrome Theater, Virginia Grace Events, and Lavender Hill, to retail endeavors including Pop of Confetti, Waller & Company Jewelers, Hill and River Collection, and Charged Up, as well as service-focused businesses including Diamonds and Dutch Pet Bath and Spa, Richmond’s Black-owned businesses embody the resilience, creativity, and excellence of their founders.

Supporting Black-owned businesses in Richmond has never been easier. In 2019, Richmond Region Tourism launched BLK RVA, a collaboration with more than 20 community leaders in celebration of the Black cultural experience in the region. On their website, visitors will find shopping and dining directories, interviews with community leaders, as well as historical and cultural guides and highlights.

Additionally, those looking to support through their taste buds will want to mark their calendar for the annual Richmond Black Restaurant Experience, which takes place March 10-17, 2024 this year, and highlights the city’s Black-owned restaurants, caterers, and food truck operators as well as their contribution toward the city’s food culture.

A black couple stands behind a register

Pop of Confetti

The Impact of Your Support

Richmond’s story of Black entrepreneurship is a testament to the power of determination, creativity, and community. Supporting Black-owned businesses is a powerful way to honor Black History Month and contribute to the ongoing story of resilience and success in the Black community.  It’s an investment in economic diversity, social equity, and cultural richness that benefits the whole Richmond community.