Small storefronts sit empty along a block of one of Washington’s historic African American neighborhoods. For decades, Black businesses thrived here, catering to loyal customers. Today, during the coronavirus pandemic, those who once patronized the establishments doubt they’ll ever reopen.
“I can’t count the number that closed and were never replaced,” Sam Higgins, an African American resident of the capital city’s Park View neighborhood, told VOA. “We used to patronize these places. I’ve seen Black-owned barber shops, convenience stores and restaurants close. They’ve been struggling before the pandemic and the bad economy forced them out of business.”
The padlocked businesses along this stretch of Georgia Avenue, a major Washington thoroughfare, illustrate the demise of small Black-owned businesses across America. Those that remain open are simply trying to stay afloat.
“The state of Black business in America is dismal,” said Rick Wade, a senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Our data shows some 2.6 million Black businesses across America, most of them sole proprietors, have already closed as a result of the pandemic.”
A recent survey by the chamber and MetLife, an insurance company, found 66% of all minority businesses forced to shut…