MS KICK – Southern University Louisiana and NWLA Maker Space hosted the Black Wallstreet Pop-Up Maker Faire on September 25th 2020, where local vendors and caterers were able to promote and sell their products. With the help of the Power Coalition the Maker Faire brought out the community to enjoy an evening of cultural art and provided a free food giveaway to those that attended. The purpose of the event was to empower African Americans through celebration of the rich heritage and Black Wall Street and similar communities like the Allendale-Lakeside-Ledbetter area through support of black businesses, black voter registration/education and completion of the Census count in black communities.
The NWLA Makerspace is spearheaded by Demetrius Norman, a local community activist and STEM pioneer in Shreveport. Norman is dedicated to community revitalization and leads the way in making Shreveport more technology friendly. He is on the forefront of this movement and hopes that by making Shreveport a Smart City and provide more accessible internet for the more vulnerable community, so they can start to over come the economic disparity caused by the digital divide. NWLA Makerspace and the SB Mini Maker Faire work to accomplish the Mission of NWLA Makerspace which is “providing resources, education, tools, and space to democratize technology, create economic justice, encourage solidarity, and inspire and self-empower communities, technical professionals, artists and creatives of all backgrounds.” The goal for black empowerment is to help black communities shift from consumers to producers and self-sustaining communities with the ability to overcome challenges and grow from within. Norman stated, “We are taking a multifaceted approach by upscaling not only the people we are donating computers to but, also providing technical training for volunteers and donors who are willing to learn how to help with the work, and that’s what makes our work multi-faceted.”
The Maker Faire hosted an array of vendors that sold art, creative face masks, to crab legs. This event gave the tenants of MS KICK an opportunity to promote and sell their unique dishes to the public who they may not have other wise been able to serve. Nathaniel Crosby of Big Nate’s BBQ, one of the newest tenants of MS KICK, found the experience to be very enlightening and a great kick start for his entrance into the program, “I was appreciative of the opportunity and it was a great learning experience for my business and I was able to interact with the community at the same time.”
The evening was enriched with musical performances by Joshua Mac, Myy Slater, Charles CJ Johnson, and poetry by Cherie G. the Prototype. Guests were invited to join in on dance battles and participated in door prizes provided by Honey Boo’s LLC that consisted of party boxes of fresh fruit, wine and roses.
The Pop-Up Maker Faire would not have taken place without dedicated sponsors. The area businesses and organizations that chose to invest in the community they reside in were the African American Chamber of Commerce, NAACP of Shreveport, AT&T, Verizon, Black Votes Matter, Power Coalition, Lumpy Grits, Committee of 100, Stanley Black and Decker, National Council of Civic Organizations, Shreveport Bossier Mini Maker Faire, Open Source Medical Supplies, GetUSPPE, and Nation of Makers. Partners of the event MS KICK-Southern University, SB Mini Maker Faire, Black Votes Matter, and Power Coalition.
This was the second Maker Faire to be hosted at MS KICK and there will be many more in the future as we hope to continue to provide an avenue for local entrepreneurs to come together and share their talents as well as increase the economic impact on their businesses.
The MS KICK tenants that participated were Big Nate’s BBQ, Honey Boo’s, and Feeding the Soul. Local vendors included Stephanie Williams, Janitorial Services, Hephzibah Thomas, Ene Penny Couture, Kennesha Thomas, Good Vibes Shop, Urina Holt and Steven Hall, SUSLA Veterans Upward Bound, Tamara White, Custom Created 4U by Tamara, Barbara Burton-Coleman, Healing Water Candles, Sredni Autrey, FFLIC, Leslie Moore, Get Wreckt(ech) Support, Cherie Gray, Lumpy Grits Artistry, D’Ramus Davis, Gina Bergeron, Nacasha Hall, Paparazzi Accessories, and Jasmine Wesley, Jazz It Up Creations.
Monique Armand, Culinary Training Director of MS KICK along with Demetrius Norman, NWLA Makerspace planned and promoted the event to its success. For more information about more upcoming events, please visit our website at www.mskick.org or call 318-670-9780.