SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Even if you're not familiar with Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle’s music, you've probably been seeing his name in your social media feeds.
The 33-year-old artist, community activist and father was shot Sunday afternoon, outside of his clothing store near the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles, where he was born and raised.
Since then, lots of people, including celebrities like Rihanna, Drake and John Legend, have been sharing tributes to him. Many of them are highlighting Nipsey Hussle's efforts in supporting black businesses and communities.
"(What) Nipsey Hussle did, he brought it back to his home and his homefront, and that's what you're supposed to do, you know. Re-invest into your community. Bring it back,” said Berry Accius, a community leader involved with Build.Black.
Build.Black. launched last year, following the shooting death of Stephon Clark. Its four goals are to invest in black neighborhoods and businesses, uplift the voices of young black people, expand health access and equity for people of color, and improve justice and policing in black communities.
"We're looking at the racial inequalities here in the Sacramento community for black neighborhoods. And when we're talking about adopting more black businesses, investing in these black businesses, we're talking about ownership,” Accius said. “And that's one of the main things that Nipsey Hussle was talking about: Ownership."
Accius and his business partner Passion Bailey are opening a new business on Saturday, Hidden Gems Thrift Store, and hope to see more members of Sacramento's black community own businesses, too. That’s something Nipsey Hussle encouraged.
"I think now, the reaction to what's happened to Nipsey Hussle will put more of an importance on, 'What does equity look like in a black community? How do we really invest in a black community? What is ownership in a black community?'” Accius said. “We're about ownership because ownership is power, and we're about taking our power back and making sure that things like that, that happened to Nipsey Hussle, doesn't happen around here."
Pastor Les Simmons of South Sacramento Christian Center in the Valley High neighborhood — also with Build.Black. — said people in the community are mourning Nipsey Hussle.
"For me, this was like that Tupac moment when he was murdered, his life was taken early,” Simmons said, referencing the 1996 murder of rapper Tupac Shakur. “For a lot of this generation, this was that moment for them."
He said Nipsey Hussle's legacy can continue to inspire young people.
"Nipsey Hussle definitely did that in Southern California in a way that galvanized both the Crenshaw community and, you know, reached all the way here to Sacramento,” Simmons said. “So, while we are hurting and the community that I've checked in with definitely is mourning his loss, there is also a moment of opportunity that says, 'How do we live into that legacy that he had, using his platform to now reinvest in the local communities?'"
He spoke with ABC10 at the old Cal Skate in South Sac, which he and community partners are renovating and reopening to the public as a roller-skating rink and community center in a few months.
"I used to go here as a kid when it was Cal Skate. It was the community hub for all of us,” Simmons said.
Like Nipsey Hussle, who also renovated and reopened his childhood roller-skating rink, Simmons is investing in the community where he grew up.
"This was the area that I grew up in, I wanted to continue to invest in it,” Simmons said. “I live in this area. I love this area. I work in this area. I play in this area."
A basketball floor in the building, which is called the Simmons Community Center – was donated by the Sacramento Kings. The concessions stand is in middle of a redesign. New pairs of roller skates are in the works. Once the space reopens to the public, Simmons anticipates it will be a fun and safe haven for local youth and their families.
“This will be completely open to the public – a shared space for the entire community to enjoy, for all kind of things to happen here, and our plan is to be open in a couple of months,” Simmons said. “It’s both partnering with public and private entities to help create a space that lifts up the black community.”
Accius’ and Bailey’s Hidden Gems Thrift Store will have a grand opening on Sat., April 6, from noon to 7 p.m. at its 2245 Florin Road location.
“‘What are one of the things that are missing in Sacramento?’” Accius said he and Bailey discussed. “We said, ‘There’s not that many black thrift stores.’ So we said three years ago, we’re going to open up our own thrift store – and now here we are.”
‘Building Black,’ a movement Nipsey Hussle embraced, “encourages folks to say, ‘You know what, instead of being a worker, I want to own something,’” Accius said.
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