The death of George Floyd and the widespread unrest that continues have left many local residents of all races in Sarasota and Manatee wondering how to help. Many people have begun making donations to national and local organizations that fight police brutality and systemic racism. Other people, like Sarasota’s James Minor, have begun supporting black-owned businesses.
Minor is Riverview High School’s International Baccalaureate coordinator, a teacher of nearly 30 years and the president of International Education Consultants. On June 3, he created a Facebook group—Support Sarasota-Manatee Black Owned Businesses— with Todd Chandler (owner of Chandler Funeral Home), Dwight Josey and Michael Kinsey (owner of Kinsey 5 Media).
Minor, who is white, started the group because he wanted to be “intentional” with his money and “find a solid way to be an ally” by finding and patronizing black businesses. “I couldn’t find any online. I looked for a list everywhere,” says Minor. “I’m from Sarasota. I went to Booker High School, so I’ve heard about all the black businesses in Newtown. I wanted to create an infrastructure of support, but I didn’t want to be the white guy just starting something.”
So Minor reached out to his friend and black business owner Michael Kinsey. Kinsey is the owner of Kinsey 5 Media— a media production company—and he is the filmmaker behind Killer Date Night, a short film and an official selection of the Pan African Film Festival. Kinsey says the long-term goal for Sarasota-Manatee Black Owned Businesses is to create a space for black entrepreneurs to meet, connect, network and do business.
“Sarasota has a history of making promises to African-American communities that they don’t follow through on,” says Kinsey. “When they built the businesses [on Martin Luther King Jr. Way] that are connected to the Janie’s Garden Apartments, we thought those buildings would be open to us, but as you can see there is a Domino’s [Pizza] there and other businesses that don’t represent the black community.”
The Facebook group (its website is SarasotaManateeBOB.com) grew to nearly 4,000 members in 24 hours. “That tells me that the movement that’s happening due to death of George Floyd and others has caused people to want to put their money where their mouth is,” says Kinsey.
Minor says the group wants entrepreneurs to be able to advertise their business for free on the site,” says Minor. “People who come to the site will be able to find a business just by searching with a few key words.”
Tarnisha Cliatt, president and CEO of the Manatee Black Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the new group. “I think it’s fantastic. The more visibility and the more awareness people bring to black businesses in this area [the more it] will help,” she says. The Manatee Black Chamber of Commerce helps its members with visibility as well. The MBCC allows members to advertise on their website, gives business owners a space to network with other business owners and provides educational resources to its members. “There’s definitely a need for small businesses,” Cliatt says. “It takes the whole united front to make this world a better place.”