In 2018, St. Louis community organizer Ohun Ashe founded For the Culture STL as an online hub for black-owned businesses. But the group’s function as a directory was only the beginning.
This expansion is a response to the needs of the community. Thursdays St Louis in the airAshe said she surveyed black-owned business owners to better support them in 2022.
The shop owner’s response opened her eyes.
“We have a lot of things,” she said. “Of mental and physical well-being, justice… and just community support. The programs that we have this summer fit into all of those categories because people are telling us they want it.”
Programs include Blackout Weekend, July 8-10, which encourages people to shop at a total of six Black-owned businesses. In addition to supporting the businesses, participating buyers are eligible to win a $50 fuel card from For the Culture STL. The companies involved are the Griot Museum of Black History, department store LUXE, Black Coffee, The Noir Bookshop, The Woke Brand and Prime 55 Restaurant & Lounge.
But Ashe and For the Culture do more than just refer clients to black businesses. On August 13, her group will host “The Black Owned Farm Tour,” featuring another local group, Ujima, and her George Washington Carver Farm in the Fairground neighborhood.
The day after the farm tour, on August 14, For the Culture is hosting its fourth annual Culture Kickback Fest, which Ashe promises will be “bigger and better” than ever. Located in Loretta Hall Park, the bash features food, fun and live musical entertainment. The party also reflects some of the deeper needs of the community: in addition to roller skating and live DJs, there will be a therapy panel and yoga class.
This summer’s various events represent Ashe’s vision of how to support black businesses and the black community at large.
“I really try to put happiness at the center of everything we do,” she said. “One of the things I’ve heard when we talk about black communities, which have been so often overlooked, is that before, there just wasn’t a place for us. … I think it’s super important that we stand up and affirm that we need to help each other, just like everyone else.”
What: Blackout weekend
When: 8th-10th July
Where: See event page for list and schedule of companies.
For more information, see For the Culture STL Facebook page for details on upcoming events, including Navigating Mental Health on the 30th of July The Black Owned Farm Tour on August 13 and the Culture Kickback Festival on August 14th.
“St Louis in the air‘ brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our area. The show is produced by Emily Woodbury, Danny WicentowskiMiya Norfleet and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The sound engineer is Aaron Dorr.