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Black Owned Business Block Party to have shopping, music, vaccine clinic

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As a mobile vendor, April Dalton said it means everything to her to be able to set up shop at a physical location, even if it’s for one day. Black Owned Business Block Party provides the opportunity for hundreds of businesses like Dalton’s — April’s Jewelry & Etc. — to earn new customers and connect with the community.

This block party, hosted by Indianapolis civil rights group DONT SLEEP, will be 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 7 at Flanner House.

The event will feature more than 140 businesses offering products and services in areas such as health, clothing, insurance and beauty. In addition to shopping, the block party will also have a Kidz Zone, back-to-school giveaway, vaccine clinic and the Sound Check Connect Experience, which includes activities and presentations such as a scavenger hunt, business panel and musical and dance performances.

Some of the Black-owned businesses people can purchase products from are The Doll Way Boutique, Treats By Fee LLC, Ujamaa Community Bookstore and April’s Jewelry & Etc. At the event, Dalton will sell accessories from West Africa such as earrings, shoes, hats and waist beads, which are worn to accentuate someone’s hips.

Dalton has been a vendor at every block party and said she returns each year because she loves coming together with other business owners and community members to support each other, especially after not having many community gatherings in the past year due to COVID-19.

“It shows that we can get together and do something positive,” she said.
Dominic Dorsey II, DONT SLEEP founder and president, said the block party is an opportunity to highlight and support Black businesses, which historically do not have access to as many resources and therefore have fewer brick and mortar establishments. Dorsey said the fee for a booth at the event, which is $25, is much lower compared to other similar events because they want to make sure more organizations can be involved.

“We are being very explicit about supporting entities that may not have opportunity to get into some of those other festivals,” he said.

The block party will also have a COVID-19 vaccine clinic monitored by the Indiana State Department of Health that will offer about 500 doses of Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines. Dorsey said he wanted to provide attendees with the option to receive the vaccine because of the low vaccination rate in Indianapolis and the Black community.

In addition to the clinic, the Centers of Wellness for Urban Women, Inc. (CWUW) will pass out information regarding the vaccine. CWUW Executive Director Rhonda Bayless said she and other volunteers will be talking about how COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black people, the safety of the vaccine and how vaccines work — including how they don’t completely protect an individual from contracting COVID-19 but do prevent serious cases of it.

Bayless said it is especially important to disseminate this information to the Black community because of the deeply-rooted distrust of the medical field in the African American community.

“Historically our health institutions have been institutionally biased and racist, so it absolutely makes sense,” she said. “But we have seen that that is not the case with this vaccine.”

Bayless said in addition to providing education on the vaccine, the organization will distribute personal protective equipment such as masks and offer a $10 gift card to Cleo’s Bodega, located at Flanner House, to the first 50 attendees who get vaccinated.

The Sound Check Connect Experience will happen throughout the entirety of the block party at the stage, which will be at the entrance of Watkins Park. At the stage, there will be guided meditation, live music from DJ DJ, a panel of entrepreneurs discussing topics such as how to turn a hustle into a steady paycheck, a mini pitch contest and musical and dance performances. Attendees can also participate in a scavenger hunt that involves the block party vendors.

Attendees 12 and under can also enjoy the Kidz Zone which will have a chess tournament hosted by Indy’s Inner-city Chess Club and two inflatables provided by Rec Zone Indy. One inflatable is a 40-yard obstacle course and the other is soft play area with a bounce house, toddler slide and ball pit for children ages 0-5.

About 300 children and parents can also pick up backpacks filled with school supplies, such as crayons, glue sticks and hand sanitizing wipes, as part of the back-to-school giveaway at the block party.

Contact staff writer Madison Smalstig at 317-924-5143. Follow her on Twitter @madi_smals

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