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Juneteenth event-goers hope support for Black neighbors doesn't stop after holiday

"It's just about just supporting all the time," said Sirena Moore-Thomas with Kingdom Plaza on the Potter's House campus which hosted a Juneteenth event Friday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — How will you start creating a lasting impact this Juneteenth federal holiday?

Events took over Jacksonville this weekend, but many who came out hope support doesn't stop there.

"It's just about just supporting all the time," said Sirena Moore-Thomas with Kingdom Plaza on the Potter's House campus which hosted a Juneteenth event Friday. "The event is great, right? It's one time, but there's so much more work to do."

Research from the University of California Santa Cruz shows a nearly 40 percent increase in new Black business owners, which is almost back from what the number at the start of the pandemic. Moore-Thomas says supporting Black-owned businesses can go a long way.

"If you're in a position where you can provide opportunities, and that's like your space, if you can open up your space for small businesses to have a space, that's a big deal," she said. "If you can provide funding, where you don't have to jump through so many hoops, that's a big deal. If you can find a local supplier that you can work with that you don't normally work with, those are things you can do on a regular basis. Provide opportunities."

A group of people helping their community long after Juneteenth is the group at Wealth Watchers, a nonprofit that teaches people about finances.

"All four of us, we coach people in how to handle their finances," said Edward Gaston, chief operating officer of Wealth Watchers. "And that includes small business too."

"Some people have never even heard of how to do a budget or what credit really means," said Christian Reis, program manager of the C.O.F.F.E.E. Project (Creating Opportunities for Future Entrepreneurs and Employees) with Wealth Watchers.

Of course they help everyone, but under the light of Juneteenth this can especially mean helping close the racial wealth gap. The average Black household earns about half as much as the average white household, according to the Federal Reserve.

"That includes financial education and includes workforce training," Gaston said. "So we do everything we can to help elevate those families."

You can participate in another Juneteenth event Monday. Starting at 11:00 a.m. at James Weldon Johnson Park will be Juneteenth Jazz in the Park.

    

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