WILLIAMSBURG-Williamsburg Action group came together May 25, 2020, in response to the death of George Floyd after video footage surfaced of then-Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department holding his knee on Floyd’s neck as he gasped for air.
“Like so many people around the world, people in our area were outraged and saw that racism is alive and well in our country,” said Antonia Darnella, president of Williamsburg Action. Born and raised off Ironbound Road, she officially founded the non-profit for locals to use as a vessel while peacefully protesting racism and injustice.
An educator with summers off, Darnella was working part time as a concierge at a local resort last summer when she formulated a new initiative to promote Black-owned local businesses.
“I started having guests who would pull me aside and ask where the soul food and jazz were located in the area,” said Darnella. “They weren’t just Black vacationers, they were white, too.”
She and roughly 30 volunteers of Williamsburg Action researched what their next focus would be and decided upon building generational wealth within the Black community. Launched November 6, The Black Business Concierge is a phone service designed to connect potential customers with Black-owned businesses in the area.
Williamsburg Action currently has 140 establishments listed in the directory, including local favorites Tipsy Beans Cafe and Nekeya’s Seafood Cafe. The group’s ambassadors are working diligently to grow the directory and vet potential members.
“We want to remind folks of why we’re doing this, not only through the concierge, but on a daily basis,” said Darnella. “Black lives matter just as much as everyone else’s.”
She’s hopeful that the direct customer pipeline to the local Black community will reach far beyond Hampton Roads and become a national resource.
For more information about Williamsburg Action, please visit www.williamsburgaction.org or their Facebook page. The Black Business Concierge may be reached at 1-855-BLK-BUSN from 8am to 2pm Friday through Sunday.