Black business owners celebrate Black History Month with inaugural bus tour

Hecky+Powell+is+one+of+37+black+business+owners+in+and+around+Evanston+participating+in+Le+Tour+de+Noir+Enterprise+Evanston.+In+honor+of+Black+History+Month%2C+black+entrepreneurs+have+planned+tours+of+their+businesses.
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Black business owners celebrate Black History Month with inaugural bus tour

Hecky Powell is one of 37 black business owners in and around Evanston participating in Le Tour de Noir Enterprise Evanston. In honor of Black History Month, black entrepreneurs have planned tours of their businesses.

Hecky Powell is one of 37 black business owners in and around Evanston participating in Le Tour de Noir Enterprise Evanston. In honor of Black History Month, black entrepreneurs have planned tours of their businesses.

Daily file photo by Drew Gerber

Hecky Powell is one of 37 black business owners in and around Evanston participating in Le Tour de Noir Enterprise Evanston. In honor of Black History Month, black entrepreneurs have planned tours of their businesses.

Daily file photo by Drew Gerber

Daily file photo by Drew Gerber

Hecky Powell is one of 37 black business owners in and around Evanston participating in Le Tour de Noir Enterprise Evanston. In honor of Black History Month, black entrepreneurs have planned tours of their businesses.

Evelyn Metric, Reporter

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Black entrepreneurs in Evanston are celebrating Black History Month by launching a new tour of Black-owned businesses throughout the city.

This month, Le Tour de Noir Entreprise Evanston will feature at least 37 black-owned businesses in and around the city, ranging from restaurants to fitness establishments to hair salons, said tour organizer Jean Murphy. Murphy said the tour currently consists of 33 businesses in Evanston and four in surrounding areas, but she is continually being approached by other black business owners looking to join the tour.

The tour consists of four different platforms: a bus tour to be held on Feb. 20, a virtual tour patrons can embark on online, a self-guided tour and a small group tour. All tours, excluding the bus tour, will be available throughout the month.

The event is organized by The Black Business Consortium Evanston, which was founded by Jean and Larry Murphy and local ice cream parlor owners Wendy and Clarence Weaver.

Jean Murphy said the goal of founding the consortium was to create a supportive environment for black-owned businesses in Evanston and the surrounding area.

“We want to increase awareness within the black businesses that there are other businesses where they can network and provide resources to each other,” Jean Murphy said. “We want to increase awareness within the African American community and the larger community as well.”

The bus tour will begin at YoFresh Yogurt Cafe, the store Jean Murphy co-owns with her husband at 635 Chicago Ave., No. 7, and will travel to seven or eight other black-owned businesses in Evanston.

Paul Zalmezak, an economic development official for Evanston, said he is excited that there is finally an event that honors black entrepreneurship in the city.

“We have a proud and a long African American business history here,” he said. “Supporting those businesses and helping get a spotlight on them helps their struggle. It’s a reminder that we have a minority population here with a proud history.”

Ginger Maddox, owner of restaurant Just Turkey, 2430 Main St., and a tour participant, said she is proud of the storied history of black businesses in Evanston.

“It starts from the owners that took a chance decades ago,” she said. “There were only three or four, and they’re still standing. It gives me optimism and it gives me hope.”

Maddox added that this event is important because it gets the word out that there are a number of black businesses in Evanston of which residents may not be aware.

Zalmezak said he helped the consortium promote the tour through social media posts and city-wide newsletters, but he stressed how involved the consortium was in organizing the event.

“My role is really supporting their initiative,” he said. “They thought of it and they banded together throughout Evanston and came up with this idea. My role really was just to help them promote it.”

Jean Murphy said she hopes the tour will have a lasting impact on the community and future generations.

“We want our children to know we have a legacy of entrepreneurship just as other ethnic groups are engaging in entrepreneurship,” she said. “We want that to be part of the script. We’re more than what the press says we are.”

Email: evelynmetric2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @EvelynMetric

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