Local black-owned businesses highlight Juneteenth celebration

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COLUMBIA - Hundreds of locals gathered at Douglass Park to celebrate Juneteenth on Friday afternoon.

The Red, Black & Green Juneteenth Festival was a free event that celebrated the 155th anniversary of the end of slavery in the United States.

The festival featured a variety of tents that showcased a number of black-owned businesses in Columbia. The businesses included food vendors, fashion, and hair salons. 

Brittany Purdiman is the co-owner of Twisted Shears, a new local hair salon that will open its doors for the first time in July. 

“We felt like it was important for us to come out today to Juneteenth to show unity,” Purdiman said. “It’s good to see the community, like, come together as a whole.”

When planning the event, Jaque Cox, one of the event coordinators, talked to local black-owned businesses he knew ahead of time.

“Columbia is not a real big town,” Cox said. “We’ve kind of already networked in each other already.”

With national attention turned to systemic racial inequality, Cox said that this year's event was especially notable. 

“In the past, it was celebrated in a beautiful way, but it hasn’t had this massive attention and appeal that it has today," Cox said. "I feel like this is huge because right now, as a collective, we really understand that July 4th is not our celebration, Juneteenth is our celebration."

Cox also mentioned how important it is for the local community to see black-owned businesses succeed.

“When the idea of this event began, it was pretty simple for everybody to jump aboard and want to put in and help where they could,” Cox said. “That’s how we thrive. When one business thrives, we all thrive.”

For newer businesses like Twisted Shears, the event was also a way for the hair salon to be introduced to the Columbia community.

“It means a lot for me because I want to reach out to the African American community because I haven’t really done these type of events very often as far as a business owner,” Purdiman said. “I just wanted everyone to, like, know who we are.”

Although black-owned businesses were celebrated in Friday’s event, Purdiman talked about how the community can continue to support businesses like hers beyond the Juneteenth festival.

“I feel like black businesses need more opportunity for exposure. We need a bigger platform versus one day,” Purdiman said. “It shouldn’t just take one day to celebrate a black-owned business, it should be celebrated every day.”