On May 13, 2023, the Spring Black Wall Street Expo witnessed the official unveiling of the ceremonial street sign for Black Wall Street on 25th Street. The momentous occasion was officiated by Jacqui Cummings, owner of the Executive Suites at Notre Maison and Notre Maison Connects, her non-profit organization. Notably, Jacqui Cummings is also the visionary behind the annual Black Wall Street Expo. Standing alongside her were business owners on 25th Street as well as representatives from small businesses from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. This culmination marked the end of a yearlong endeavor closely coordinated with the Maryland Department of Transportation.
The Black Wall Street Expo, now in its fifth year, is held twice annually, each spring and fall. Formerly the Charles Village Business Expo, Jacqui Cummings reshaped its identity in 2019, a decision born from the recognition that the participating businesses were predominantly Black-owned. That, coupled with reaching out to the late Sherry Gamble-Smith, the former president of the Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce in Tulsa, Oklahoma—the very place synonymous with the historic Black Wall Street in the Tulsa Greenwood District. Fondly recalling their dialogue, Cummings shared Gamble-Smith’s words, “I am honored that you would name the event Black Wall Street.” The approval secured the use of the name and the iconic Black Wall Street logo, now integral to promoting the annual expo. The original Black Wall Street of Tulsa fell victim to the tragic events of 1921, when it was razed in a violent eruption known as the Tulsa Race Massacre or the Black Wall Street Massacre, a grim two-day episode of white supremacist terrorism between May 31 and June 1.
Within the compact expanse defined by the Black Wall Street on 25th Street sign—spanning six blocks from 20th Street to 25th Street and flanking 25th Street from Howard to St. Paul Streets—an estimated 135 Black owned businesses find their home. This enclave, located in the Old Goucher neighborhood and adjacent to Charles Village community, stands as a testament to the allure for businesses drawn by its concentrated Black-owned enterprises. The array of businesses in the area, include cafes, nail salons, mental health providers, legal practitioners, accounting firms, clothing boutiques, tag and title agencies, construction enterprises and a beauty supply emporium (with a secondary location in Northwood Commons).
Cummings, a beacon of inspiration, says of the business and her work, “It does not matter where you start or what you have done, what matters most is where you are and how to make the best of it. This area represents the resiliency, positive thinking, and the embodiment of entrepreneurial dreams.” Cummings, a visionary entrepreneur herself owns four buildings on 25th Street and serves as the landlord to 31 Black businesses through Executive Suites at Notre Maison. Her mission extends to firmly advocating for property ownership for businesses as the path forward. Her dedication has incubated over 38 new ventures, nurturing the spirit of entrepreneurship.
The Black Wall Street on 25th Street sign now stands proudly at the southwest intersection of Charles and 25th Streets, a symbol of unity and progress, honoring the legacy of resilience while propelling a future of flourishing Black entrepreneurship.