This summer, after George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis sparked Black Lives Matter protests and demands for police reform around the country, posts highlighting Sarasota-Manatee’s Black business community began showing up in locals’ Facebook feeds. The source? A new group called “Support Sarasota-Manatee Black-Owned Businesses.”
“Like so many of us this summer, I Googled Black-owned businesses in Sarasota, and I didn’t get any high-quality information,” says Riverview High School International Baccalaureate coordinator and longtime educator Jim Minor. “I thought, how do I engage these businesses and support them?”
Minor, 43, called his friends Michael Kinsey, 53, and Dwight Josey, 60, and together the three came up with the idea for a Facebook group called “Support Sarasota-Manatee Black-Owned Businesses.” Within 24 hours of its founding on June 3, the group grew to more than 4,000 members. At press time, that number had ballooned to more than 11,000. Businesses include Black-owned bakeries, coffee roasters, clothiers, hairstylists, auto detailers, and even a mannequin maker; group members can post a question about what goods and services they’re looking for and a bevy of responses will flow in. Dedicated moderators make sure the discussions stay respectful and on topic. The result? New friends, shared resources—and, ultimately, dollars being reinvested into a part of the local business community that historically has been undervalued and underrepresented.
“To see a white family in Newtown after 7 p.m. taking selfies with the owners of Stroke’s Seafood, which they discovered through our group, there was a time when that wouldn’t happen,” Kinsey, a photographer, filmmaker and content creator, says. “Our group is changing Black lives and businesses, but I think we’re changing white lives as well. We’re all human; Black businesses want the American dream, too. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”