BusinessPrince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

A New Black Renaissance Popping in Prince George’s

Leon Chapman slowly walked alongside a table covered with handmade soaps, colorful earrings and other accessories.

But the Capitol Heights resident wanted a specific item from Malik’s Fashion Boutique: a lightly scented oil called “Amber White.”

“I just got this little bottle that will last me for a month,” Chapman said Saturday, Sept. 5 outside Everlasting Life Restaurant in Capitol Heights. “It is very important for the community to have something like this [during COVID-19 pandemic]. It is nice to see people being able to survive and still make a living.”

Chapman purchased his small ounce bottle of oil during the first day of the Black Wall Street Renaissance pop-up shopping bazaar at Everlasting Life. The free community event will last a week until Saturday, Sept. 12 for almost a dozen Black vendors to showcase art, African garb, books and other merchandise.

The one-week exhibit held every first Saturday of the month was created to promote recirculation of cash locally, especially in majority Black Prince George’s County.

It’s also inspired to emulate the original Black Wall Street from the 20th century in Tulsa, Okla.  The city’s Black district of Greenwood was where about 10,000 people settled and redistributed their wealth to build grocery and clothing stores, barbershops and salons, a bank and even established a Black newspaper called The Tulsa Star.

“We just decided a couple of years ago to help support small and local vendors,” said Al-Qamar Malik, owner of Malik’s FashionBoutique and who helped organize the event in Capitol Heights. “This is to circulate our dollars within the community. What better way to do it than through a renaissance?”

Baruch Ben-Yehubah, owner and founder of Everlasting Life, opened his health-conscious business 20 years ago in Prince George’s. He opened five years earlier in the District with two other establishments at the Anacostia Arts Center in Southeast and in Takoma in Northwest. Ben-Yehubah said plans are in the works for a fourth location by next year.

The vegan menu offers delicacies such as chopped chicken salad, seaweed wrapped fish, green cabbage and a variety of smoothies.

In addition to the other vendors, the restaurant presented a cold salad bar Saturday that included olives, salsa, guacamole, and non-dairy cheese.

Although Prince George’s 2018 health data showed improvements in primary medical and dental care, the county ranked last among the state of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions of residents uninsured and near the bottom of diabetes monitoring.

“Even though this community has changed quite a bit at least economically, the health disparity is still prevalent,” Ben-Yehubah said. “We as a business are established to have an alternative to what is contributing to the problem. We want to contribute to the solution.”

Some vendors such as Emeka and Deneshia Oruada link merchandise back to Africa.

The couple from Oxon Hill sell colorful $15 masks for children and adults with fabric from Emeka Oruada’s homeland of Nigeria.Each mask has a small, clear visor attached that can flip up to cover the eyes.

“We’re connecting on the continent to have them designed and made there and bring them here to all of our people,” said Deneshia Oruada, an intelligent analyst for the federal government who established Black Travel Brand with her husband last year. “We wanted to be help for our fellow man as much as we could. We have about 4,000 on stock. We can protect an army.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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