Black Out raises business support

Florida A&M University Student Government Association and Florida State’s Black Student Union are teaming up to encourage the black community to spend their money at a black business.

These two organizations seek to instill a greater sense of pride in black-owned businesses and gear Tallahassee students and the community toward supporting black-owned businesses more often through the initiative “Blackout 2k8.”

This initiative begins Feb. 29 and runs through March 2.

“Blackout 2k8” is molded from Black Solidarity Day, which began in 1969. “Blackout 2k8” was modeled after Mahatma Gandhi’s protests for unity and strength that came out of a play by Douglas Turner Warner titled “The Day of Absence.” It emphasized the important role blacks played in building the country. It was also a means of showing that blacks are able to shut down cities and make such an economic impact it would force the authorities to deal with the issues of black people.

Kianta Key’s duties as co-chair of “Blackout 2k8” and secretary of economic development for SGA include planning educational events to bring about awareness. She has planned and implemented this new initiative that she hopes will become an annual or monthly event, not just for Black History Month.

“It’s frustrating to see black-owned businesses go out of business because we do not support them,” Key said. “I hope that this initiative will encourage our community to support our businesses and influence students to become entrepreneurs.”

Key said this would be the first time FAMU and FSU have come together for a common effort of uplifting black businesses in the community.

“I think it’s a great idea that the two campuses are doing this because iit shows commitment to trying to recycle the black dollar as was done during the time of the Black Wall Street,” said Courtney Peasant, 22, a senior psychology FAMU student from Memphis, Tenn.

Pedro Gassant, the president of Florida State’s Black Student Union, said the event is a step forward for the black community.

“The first step towards progress is support; order for our black businesses to make progress we must support them,” Gassant said. “I hope that students start to recognize how pivotal it is to support these businesses where the owners look like us. It is our duty as a people to support those that uplift us.”

The motto for the Blackout comes from black philosopher and scholar, W.E.B DuBois, who said, “To whom you give your money, you give your power.”

Many students are optimistic about the new initiative, but Dorian Cockrell, 24, an FSU economics graduate from Jersey City, said, “I like the idea of the two schools coming together, but I don’t think it will do any good for the community because black people aren’t going to continue to support the black business other than that one day.”