BY JEFF LEESEMAN | STAFF WRITER
JANUARY 2, 2023
According to the Brooklyn Reader website, “Ujamma is a commitment to the practice of shared social wealth and the work necessary to achieve it. It grows out of the fundamental communal concept that social wealth belongs to the masses of people who created it and that no one should have such an unequal amount of wealth that it gives him/her the capacity to impose unequal, explorative or oppressive relations on others.”
Mannie King desires to bring people together and see his culture prosper. He has a relentless passion for raising community awareness and creating collective economical support systems amongst black business owners. King, the owner of Froot Orleans, a fresh fruits store located in New Orleans’ seventh ward, will never shy away from what he believes is needed for his culture and within his community. This past Thursday, December 29th, King, with the involvement of other community leaders and black business owners launched the first inaugural Ujamma block party outside of his storefront.
For King, the event was much needed and long overdue. His objectives has always remained the same for wealth sharing. Buy from within and re-circulate wealth amongst your own. King’s Ujamma block party launch is part of the ongoing process to ensure black business owners and patrons are equipped with knowledge concerning wealth while discontinuing the trend of blaming outside influences as reasons why resources are not readily available. “We need it.” King exclaimed. “I get tired of people saying what we don’t have and what we lacking when we have everything we need. We just have to structure it and put it together. I feel like we lacking creators and curators so we need more people to curate things like this.”
A part of the ongoing issue with the lack of creators and curators to structure events such as Ujamma block party is an unwillingness amongst our own culture to collaborate with one another while choosing competition instead. King believes the issue can be fixed if there is a willingness to focus our attention on the solution rather than the problem. “The majority of our problems come because we don’t have enough money to take care of our issues. So we spend a lot of time basking on the problem. If we have the solution we can spend a lot of time basking on the solution.” King explained to blkpreneurship.com.
The conclusion of the first inaugural Ujamma block party, which took place under a beautiful sky with spring time temperatures, was just what King envisioned. Black business vendors were in abundance, patrons were patronizing multiple businesses, while artists brought forth a spoken word and song. Still, King knows his work in bringing prosperity to his culture is not finished. He draws strength from a greater source and realizes he’s just a vessel to bring help to those who need to see the light. “It’s the spirit inside of me brother. I’m just a vessel. Whatever we need I ask the creator to channel it through me. It might be wrong. It might be right. I’m just a vessel.”
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