‘Black Is Beautiful NE’ highlights artists and businesses at Juneteenth celebration

‘Black Is Beautiful NE’ highlights artists and businesses at Juneteenth celebration

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs were given a platform on Sunday at the Juneteenth celebration at the Haymarket. The railyard was packed with people from all backgrounds for the festivities and reflection on the holiday.

Black Is Beautiful-Nebraska was the organization behind the celebration. Other businesses and artists joined them with similar values; uplifting black representation and community connection.

“It’s a great feeling to know that we’re giving people these safe spaces that they feel like they need,” said founder, Zainab Funnah. “It’s good to introduce people that may have not been introduced to this culture, the history, and the past.”

It wasn’t just a day to reflect on the emancipation of an entire demographic. Vendors like HAKIM, founder of Corn Coast Co., say Sunday’s event highlighted freedoms from shackles that often bind communities nationwide.

“I think it’s important to continuously emancipate ourselves from the mental chains that we have, financially, economically, spiritually and emotionally,” HAKIM explained.

He says his brand offers more than just hats and sweaters, the brand uses its profits to create business grants for young entrepreneurs in the Good Life state. It gives kids a head start and breaks generational cycles.

“We’re here and making the necessary steps to empower ourselves and put the power in our hands,” said HAKIM.

The founder of Black is Beautiful, Zainab Funnah, says events like the celebration showcase the diversity of the capital city that’s often overlooked.

Funnah said it’s a safe space for artists to make connections while making a name for themselves.

“They’re being uplifted and represented where they can be themselves and show who they are and what they’re doing in the community,” Funnah said.

Another young business owner, Dionna Lafler, said she began her brownie business in the eighth grade, selling squares to her friends at school.

“I just wanted to stop being broke, and have some money in my pocket, and eventually it just grew,” Lafler said.

Visitors say they can feel a sense of community when walking into the railyard, a feeling Councilman Bennie Shobe said is echoed throughout Lincoln.

“There’s something magical happening here, while we’re in the Midwest and far from large population centers there’s a sense of community in this 300-thousand-person city, you can always find someone willing to help you,” Shobe said. “They might not have what you need, but they know someone who does. Community is big here.”

Communities around the country are celebrating Juneteenth this weekend. In Lincoln, one organization cultivated a tradition of giving platforms to artists.

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