For the past few weeks, I’ve been staying focused on the Austin Landmark Cultural Center and the Taste of Thanksgiving Sides. That event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Austin Landmark Cultural Center is located at 5200 W. Chicago Ave. That is the Laramie State bank building, owned by John Young. The executive director of the cultural center is Earline Ruffin.
Over the years, I have written about “what we should do” as a community. I have written about our needing to have our own bank to fund businesses for this community. With the census count for Austin saying we have over 117,000 people living here, if each one of us put $100 into a savings investment account, we would have almost 12 million dollars to fund local businesses for Austin.
Again I will point out that the idea to do this is not one I made up. Instead if you go to www.unitedbankofphiladelphia.com, you can learn that a similar idea was used to get that bank started. Many of us have ideas for businesses. We just don’t have the money. Or if in business, there are always pitfalls that are out there to keep the business from succeeding. It is rare to hear that a black business failed because the product wasn’t any good. It is almost always financing that leads to those businesses not being able to become successful.
Why is it important for us to have our own businesses? Well the announcement that Cub Foods will be leaving Cicero and North avenues right before the holiday season should be a wake up call to us as a community. Where will those of us in North Austin shop for our holiday food? We don’t have the Jewel Foods at 1700 N. Kostner anymore either. The Jewel Foods at Laramie and Belmont has just closed as well. So what will those without a car do? Are they to depend on the corner stores to have what they need? Will those items be fresh or will they be things that have been sitting on the shelves for years?
Now I know that many of us with cars will travel to the outlying communities to shop. But when we do that, we are helping to keep their communities strong and vibrant while ours stagnate. When we don’t have grocery stores in our own community, then we don’t have a place for people to work. And I have yet to see a single e-mail hit my computer rallying us to do something about the loss of those grocery stores. But when it was time to advocate for Wal-Mart and point out how the black community was a “food desert,” why I had e-mail after e-mail. But now that we won’t have a grocery store, there is silence. Why is that?
I searched the Internet to learn more about the people who will take over the Cub Foods space. According to the Tribune, the new owners will be Grand Mart International Foods. Grand Mart is the brainchild of David Ming Sik Kang and was located primarily in the Washington D.C. area. They specialize in Asian, Hispanic and American foods.
In the meantime, until the new store opens, what are we to do? Our “Taste” is a start to introduce black business owners to their black consumers. But it is up to us as consumers to come out and meet these business owners and support them in their endeavors. It is also important to support the Austin Landmark Cultural Center. It is the largest black-owned building in our community. I will be there all day to meet and greet each and every one of you. The donation of $1 at the door is a small token to get the Cultural Center going and to start our community on the road to self-empowerment. To contact the Cultural Center, please call Earline Ruffin at 773/378-0212 or 773/787-7054.
We will again be on Garfield Major’s talk show, “Talking to the People”. His show is on WPNA 1490 AM. The show comes on Sunday night at 9:30. The phone number to the radio station is 708/524-9762.
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