Office of Multicultural Affairs to honor Juneteenth and Black Wall Street with PBS documentary film

In honor of Juneteenth, which will become a paid city holiday in 2022, Chattanooga’s Office of Multicultural Affairs is screening the PBS documentary film, “Boss: The Black Experience in Business.”

The featured activity will take place from 2-5 p.m. on June 19, at Miller Plaza Waterhouse Pavilion, 850 Market St.
Tying together the past and the present, “Boss: The Black Experience in Business” explores the inspiring stories of trailblazing African American entrepreneurs and the significant contributions of contemporary business leaders. 

It brings viewers on a journey from the end of Reconstruction through the present, tracing the emergence of a stable black business community alongside the greater struggle for civil rights.

Stories featured in the film include those of entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, publisher John H. Johnson, Motown CEO Berry Gordy, and business pioneer and philanthropist Reginald F. Lewis, among others.

“African Americans have played a central role in the history of American business, but their stories are often left untold,” said Stanley Nelson, the Peabody- and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker who directed “Boss: The Black Experience in Business.” 

“Today, as we see talented Black businessmen and women not only building successful companies in mainstream America, but also emerging as managers and CEOs for some of the most powerful corporate entities in the world, ‘Boss: The Black Experience in Business’ shares the remarkable stories of a community facing tremendous obstacles to pursue social, political and economic progress.”

The film screening is part of “Chattanooga Recreates Black Wall Street,” an inaugural month-long recognition sponsored by the city, highlighting the celebration and patronage of Black-owned businesses during the month of June.

This will include a display of historic photos from the original Black Wall Street, as well as photos of Chattanooga’s early Black businesses and Black businesses from throughout the region.

Attendees will also be able to learn how to access the city’s Black-owned business directory and learn how to register their enterprise with the city as a vendor or as a city-certified minority women-owned business enterprise.

Local food vendor BBQ Rowe will be onsite with signature food items for purchase, as well as limited free samples.

Free parking will be available at City Hall parking lot B, located at E. 10th Street between Lindsay and Houston Streets. The event is free and open to the public.

A limited supply of commemorative hats and t-shirts will also be available as give-aways during the event.

In collaboration with the Downtown Chattanooga Alliance, the month-long celebration will also include the display of flags along Market Street and in front of downtown Black-owned businesses that will celebrate this occasion.

June 19, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day, commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved people of Texas, then the most remote region of the Confederacy, finally learned slavery had been abolished and that they were free.

“Black Wall Street” is the historical reference to the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, once known as one of the most prosperous African-American communities within the United States up until the 1921 attack on black residents and businesses by mobs of white residents.

The PBS documentary film, “Boss: The Black Experience in Business,” shines a light on the story of resilience and resistance within the Black American experience in the face of racial hostility and violence, economic exclusion, segregation and discrimination.