Kicking off Black History Month, the Washington Wizards launched Black-Owned DMV, a campaign designed to highlight local Black-owned businesses during February home games.

The pandemic has hurt small businesses as a whole during these turbulent times, but the Wizards will integrate six local Black-owned businesses into their home game presentations through a digital content initiative to promote what makes them great and essential to the city.

“When you support a local small business, you are helping a neighbor realize their dream,” said Jim Van Stone, Monumental Sports & Entertainment president of business operations and chief commercial officer.

The video series will feature pregame announcements and exclusive interviews dedicated to sharing each establishment’s unique story.

The six Black-owned businesses are comprised of a range of trades and were hand-picked directly on recommendations from Wizards players and team staff.

Those businesses are Henry’s Soul Café, The Spice Suite, The Museum DC, Boombox Boxing, The Southwest Soda Pop Shop and the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Henry’s Soul Café has two DMV locations, serving diners in this region for more than 50 years.

“People come back to the soul cafe for great food, fried chicken, and good southern cuisine,” said Jermaine Smith, son of the late owner Henry E. Smith. “The sweet potato pie, we make it with love, and it’s the best pie on the planet.”

The Southwest Soda Pop Shop is a female-owned Black business that was in jeopardy of losing their business due to the pandemic’s effects, prompting them to ask for support on Twitter.

The community rallied behind their efforts with an online post that went viral, and now they can keep their doors open.

“The community, it’s been amazing how they have poured so much support for us,” so much love,” said Andrea Jones (one of the four sisters running the operation) on The Kelly Clarkson Show. “We could have never of imagined a response like this.”

The Black-Owned DMV segments will be available on the Wizards social media channels and NBC Sports Washington. Fans can also tune into Wizards Virtual Gameday to watch live on game days.

“These Black-owned small businesses were hand-picked by our Wizards players and staff not only because of their excellence in their trade, but more importantly, they build the same sense of community that our team strives to build across this region,” Van Stone said. “We are so proud to support and highlight the dreams of these pillars across our neighborhoods who showcase what it means to put DC Above All.”

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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