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St. Louis group ‘For the Culture STL’ celebrates Black-owned businesses

A group of people dancing during an outdoor party.
Nyara Williams
Ohun Ashe and others dance during last year's Culture Kickback event.

In 2018, St. Louis community organizer Ohun Ashe founded For the Culture STL as an online hub for Black-owned businesses. But the group’s function as a directory was just the beginning.

That expansion represents a response to the needs of the community. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Ashe said she polled Black-owned business owners to better support them in 2022.

The response from business owners opened her eyes.

“We got a slew of things,” she said. “From mental and physical wellness, equity… and just community support. The programs that we have this summer, they fit into all of those boxes, because that is what people tell us they want it.”

For the Culture STL founder Ohun Ashe.
Danny Wicentowski
For the Culture STL founder Ohun Ashe

The programs include the Blackout Weekend, July 8-10, which encourages people to shop at a total of six Black-owned businesses. In addition to supporting the businesses, participating shoppers are eligible to win a $50 gas card from For the Culture STL. The businesses involved are the Griot Museum of Black History, LUXE Department Store, Black Coffee, The Noir Bookshop, The Woke Brand and Prime 55 Restaurant & Lounge.

But Ashe and For the Culture are doing more than just directing customers to Black businesses. On Aug. 13, her group will host “The Black Owned Farm Tour,” involving another local group, Ujima, and its George Washington Carver Farm in the Fairground neighborhood.

One day after the farm tour, on Aug. 14, For the Culture is throwing its fourth annual Culture Kickback Fest, which Ashe promises will be “bigger and better” than ever. Located at Loretta Hall Park, the bash will feature food, fun and live musical entertainment. The party also reflects some of the deeper needs of the community: Along with roller skating and live DJs, it will feature a therapy panel and yoga class.

This summer’s various events represent Ashe’s vision for what supporting Black businesses, and the Black community in general, can look like.

“I really try to make happiness a center key point in everything we do,” she said. “When we talk about Black communities that have been overlooked so much, some of the things that I've heard is that there just hasn't been a space for us before. ... I think it's super important that we stand up and affirm that we have to help heal each other, just as much as anybody else.”

Related Event
What: Blackout Weekend
When: July 8-10
Where: See event page for list and schedule of businesses.

For more information, visit the For the Culture STL Facebook page for details for the upcoming events, including Navigating Mental Health on July 30, The Black-Owned Farm Tour on Aug. 13 and the Culture Kickback Fest on Aug. 14.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Miya Norfleet and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."
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