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Owners Of Hyde Park, Michigan Avenue Kilwins Shops Asked To Take Down 'Black Owned Business' Signs

CHICAGO (CBS) -- During National Black Business Month comes a controversy over a sign that reads "Black Owned Business." A mother-daughter duo who own three Kilwins shops in Chicago say they were asked to take theirs down.

"We had a sign posted here, "Black Owned Business." You can still see the tape residue on the window from where it was," said Jackie Jackson.

Last summer following civil unrest that left their store on Michigan Avenue broken, the Jacksons say the the "Black Owned Business" signs that went up in their storefronts after were part of the healing process.

"Once we put that sign up, we had a pouring of support from communities of all backgrounds," Janel Jackson said. "It was the most beautiful thing."

But days before Juneteenth, a now federal holiday, they were asked by their corporate office to take the sign down.

"The reason is because they wanted to protect their "brand equity" and focus on celebrating enjoyment," Janel said.

In a June email shown to CBS 2, a Kilwins employee said, in part, to the mother-daughter duo, "Kilwins does not approve your proposed Black Owned Business sign."

"It's disappointing," said Janel.

"We would see proud guests that would come in, take pictures with the sign," Jackie said.

For Jackie, those pictures were signs of their own that representation matters.

"My background, born and raised in South Side Chicago, growing up poor, life savings and hard working, inspiring them and giving them hope," said Jackie.

Her daughter and Kilwins co-owner Janel admitted she was hesitant to do the interview, but hopes that disappointment can be a teaching moment.

"I'm nervous, but my ancestors were not nervous," she said. "I believe speaking out will hopefully let others have a different take and gain a different perspective, open up their mind and heart and make some changes."

Together Janel and Jackie own three Kilwins locations: Michigan Avenue, Hyde Park and Navy Pier. Those signs were only up at the Michigan avenue and Hyde Park locations.

Kilwins did not respond to CBS 2's inquiries for comment.

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