The universe is presenting the residents of Lithonia and the Stonecrest mall area with a wonderful opportunity [“Stonecrest residents pushing hard for grocery store,” April 21, 2012, CrossRoadsNews] not only to provide ourselves with groceries, but to create a unique business engine to take control of the economic future of our community.
We should praise God that Kroger and Publix do not deign to do business in our neighborhood. The “big boys” only do business in areas where they can reap huge profits and line their pockets.
The Stonecrest trading area, while having many middle- to high-income families that can easily sustain a grocery store, lacks the “density” to make it really attractive, according to Charles Whatley, DeKalb economic development director, in the April 21 story. In other words, there aren’t enough “big bucks” folks for them to make a financial killing, so they said, “No thanks.” We should say, “No problem mon.”
Since its inception in 1966, many African-Americans celebrate Kwanzaa. The fourth principle of the Kwanzaa celebration is “cooperative economics – to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.”
Let’s get together and build our own cooperative grocery store!
There are literally hundreds of viable and successful cooperative grocery stores all across the country. The Sevananda Cooperative in Atlanta’s Little Five Points has been providing fresh produce and groceries to its members since 1974. Surely, with all the education, entrepreneurial swag, money and political clout possessed by our community, we can build one successful cooperative grocery store.
“Black Wall Street” in north Tulsa, Okla., in its heyday in the early 1900s contained more than 21 black churches, 30 grocery stores, two movie theaters, a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices and a bus system. Sadly, this thriving and robust black community was bombed and burned to the ground on June 21, 1921, by envious whites aided and abetted by the Ku Klux Klan and other interests who felt threatened by this sepia success story that was simply too hard to stomach.
Rather than beg those who don’t want to, let’s pay homage to all who have sacrificed for us and build our own viable cooperative grocery store, teach our children a profound lesson, and leave a legacy that we can all be proud of for generations to come.
The Rev. Byron L. Merritt lives in Decatur.