SAN FRANCISCO -- An area of San Francisco once known as the "Harlem of the West" is trying to revive its Black cultural roots with a new marketplace set to open on Fillmore Street.
The city's Fillmore District was the center of Black brilliance and history before urban renewal in the 1960s. It forced thousands of residents to move out of the neighborhood and shuttered dozens of doors at Black-owned businesses.
"We feel like our voice wasn't heard as an African American community being based out of Fillmore for so long," said Pia Harris. "So this is bringing that back!"
Harris is creative force behind a new marketplace called In The Black that will be located at Fillmore and Geary Streets. Her brainchild is expected to sustain and revive Black-owned businesses. Harris is also the program director for economic development with the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation.
Cianni Jackson owns CIK Apparel, a clothing design business she started roughly three years ago, but doesn't have a brick-and-mortar location. CIK Apparel focuses on creating clothes that represent Black culture and is one of almost two dozen Black business owners that will share the marketplace to sell their products.
"The world constantly is trying to bring us down as a people, and we need to be able to feel proud," said Jackson.
She makes her designs at her home because of the extremely high rent in the Bay Area. Jackson knows what the Fillmore used to look like when it was thriving.
"There were tons of Black businesses. This used to be the mecca for Black businesses," said Jackson.
Quan Moore owns Quani's. She has been selling goods out of the trunk of her car for years.
"Words can't even explain. All I know is God is opening doors and I'm going though them," said Moore.
Moore and Jackson are looking forward to what In The Black will bring not only to their business, but to San Francisco.
In The Black will be a place where Black entrepreneurs will be under one room spitting the rent and given resources to help them sustain. Harris says In The Black will promote wealth-building for 22 Black entrepreneurs, giving them a chance to build strong businesses and offering affordable rent.
"We didn't have the chance to learn generational wealth or how to run a business," said Harris. "That's what we're doing now. We're giving them all the tools We're not just running the shop, we're giving them marketing consultants and financial wellness and planning to help them sustain."
Harris says in the Fillmore, rent ranges from $6,000-$15,000 a month, which is a lot of a business. So with more than 20 businesses under one roof, they'll be splitting the rent.
"They never thought they'd have the opportunity to have a storefront in a prime location with rent being so high in San Francisco," said Harris. "That's why we're called In The Black. We're in the Black neighborhood and everyone wants to be in the black. Black is beautiful and that's what we're celebrating here."
In The Black is set to open in mid-December and was made possible with financial support from the Dream Keepers Initiative which is part of the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation.
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