Buy Black Empowerment Movement sees progress in Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY -- The African-American community is being urged not to do any shopping Monday unless it's with a black-owned business. It's part of "Blackout Monday," a movement organized by the National Black United Front in response to civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

Workers at Leon's Thriftway tell FOX 4 News they often see customers who make a special trip to buy their groceries at this store, specifically because it's the only African-American owned grocery around.

More customers are doing their shopping at Leon's as part of the Buy Black Empowerment Initiative. Organizers say African-Americans have more than $1 trillion in spending power nationwide. They say by sitting on their money today, the African-American community hopes to send a message and honor all murdered black men, women and children.

"The importance is we have spending power, which means we have the power to make change," said Taty Richards, a member of the Buy Black Empowerment Initiative. "In order to get that change made, you have to be heard. We're going to pull our money out and hold it and put it in our own businesses in our community."

Black business owners say when they succeed they reinvest back in their neighborhoods.

"I think it would help greatly," said Stevan Leon August, of Leon's Thriftway. "I feel that if we start empowering each other that we all can grow. It will bring more jobs to the community, to the neighborhood. People who can't drive all the way to the bigger supermarkets. It won't cause mom and pop stores to go out of business. I feel like we as a community can only make us stronger."

The Black United Front has a free Buy Black KC app for Android and iPhones so that African-Americans can identify black-owned businesses near them. By doing business only with other African-Americans, owners are expected to help uplift the entire community through further investment and employment.

Organizers hope to continue the blackout buying days every Friday and on holidays as a way to encourage other African-American entrepreneurs to set up shop in the black community.

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