Jacqui Cummings, a serial entrepreneur who set up shop on W. 25th Street 19 years ago, is very serious about Black business. Within her Charles Village properties are housed some 29 Blackowned businesses. As a matter of fact, one could call her neck of the woods “Baltimore’s Black Wall Street.”
On that note, Cummings and her partners have scheduled their 3rd annual event celebrating these businesses. “The Black Wall Street of Baltimore Business Walk” is scheduled for Saturday, September 25, 2021 from 12 noon to 7 pm on 25th Street in between Howard and St. Paul.
Not only a business owner, Cummings also has a heart for young people and consequently formed her own nonprofit, Notre Maison Connects, to better serve them. The purpose is to work with
youth 18-21 in their “Greater Youth Initiative”. Cummings said, “We teach financial literacy, computer literacy, resume writing, career readiness and other critical skills to empower and better prepare youth for employment.”
She added, “We pay for drivers’ education and CPR/ First Aid Certification. We take youth fishing, hiking and out of their communities. We also take them with us to revive childcare centers abroad. We completed two centers in St. Thomas, VI before COVID.
In an effort to raise funds to support the Greater Youth Initiative, Notre Maison Connects created the Charles Village Business Walk (CVBW) in 2019 as an annual fundraising event. The idea was to have a “Big Sidewalk Sale” and invite other business owners to sell products in
this rapidly growing business community.
Under the CVBW title, the misconception was that only businesses in Charles Village were able to participate and vend at the events, which was not true. “We worked hard to make it clear that all businesses were welcomed and invited to participate in the events,” said Cummings.
For their second annual event, 20 more business owners participated. Ultimately, Cummings said, “We decided to host the event biannually and change the name in 2021 to The Black Wall Street of Baltimore Business Walk hosting a variety of businesses that provide various products and services.”
Touched by the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921, Cummings wants to turn into inspiration.
“What happened in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, also known as one of the three Black Wall Streets, was absolutely horrific. Even though it was not the first or last of such brutal crimes against our people and their businesses, it had become the symbol of strength for many Black-owned businesses around the world. I am inspired and encouraged by our ancestors’ audacity to be great!” The two other Black Wall Streets are in Durham, North Carolina and Richmond, Virginia’s Jackson Ward Historic District.
“Remembering Tulsa’s legacy is all about preserving the magnificent history of the rise of our great people who, yet again, had been cast down, deprived and thought hopeless. It’s a reminder that we can rise from the ashes even when they burn us down to the ground. We want business owners, attendees, passersby, dreamers, children and everyone to know that we will continue to rise. We need to acknowledge and support Blackowned businesses. At the same time, Black-owned businesses need to provide quality services, products and customer service. We have everything we need in our community to be great, and if not, we need to create it to keep our spending power in our community.”
While the Black dollar once circulated multiple times before leaving the community, today it leaves the community almost immediately. “We are strong, resilient and growing! We want people to walk away more empowered and informed – taking a bit of history with them while contributing to history in the making,” said Cummings.
She added, “Our area is already riddled with small, one-way streets. The main and largest street that connects the East and the West is 25th Street. Hence, we consider 25th Street the Black Wall Street of Baltimore and its purpose is to uplift, set examples and to encourage unity in our community. I purchased my first commercial property at 18 W. 25th Street in April 2002. Since then, I have witnessed businesses come and go. However, within the last few years, there has been a resurgence of Black entrepreneurship in our area. Not only are there more Black-owned businesses, there are also more Blacks acquiring and purchasing properties in our community.
There are several Black business owners with multiple properties, including myself. I currently own 4 commercial properties hosting 29 Black-owned businesses on one block. I tell them…they can’t leave unless they are buying and I’m willing to assist them along their journey.”