Black customers eat at Two Fish Crab Shack in Chicago
Two Fish Crab Shack is one of Chicago's many great black-owned businesses.
Two Fish Crab Shack
By Claire Young / June 9, 2020 9:45 am

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the wave of protest that has followed, Chicago activist Jahmal Cole — CEO and Founder of My Block, My Hood, My City — has urged Chicagoans to ask themselves, “What’s something simple that I can do that’ll have a positive impact on my block?”

Putting money into Black-owned businesses is about as simple as it gets. As anti-racist sentiments ring out across the globe, never forget the power of the almighty dollar.

“Chicagoans should support Black-owned businesses right now because, more than ever, communities are in need of stabilization. It is imperative that we invest in our own. And when we do this we can revitalize faster,” says Doughboy Fryison, co-founder of Doughboy’s Chicago. He says support from the city of Chicago in conjunction with individuals making more of a conscious effort to support and acknowledge these businesses can allow them to rebuild stronger than before.

“It is important to me that Chicagoans support Black-owned businesses because it enables that particular business to build equity as it scales, as well as creating the ability for expansion,” says Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room. “Expansion within a primarily Black neighborhood would then generate more jobs for the residents of that community. Now if our Black-owned businesses were able to buy up more property within their established community with the profits of its growth, we would be able to rebuild and protect our community from gentrification and generational poverty. It’s a win-win if you ask me.” 

Marcus Ward, the owner Urban Grill Chicago, adds urgency, saying, “It’s important to support Black-owned businesses especially right now because there’s not many Black businesses still up and running. Between COVID and the looting, it’s important to support the ones we have left before there are no more of us left.” The stakes are high for Ward, who says it’s extremely important to him for his children to see Black people as business owners, “and not just workers”. 

Ashley Rockwood, founder of Free Mvmt Shop, says people have been shocked to learn she owns her Lincoln Park fitness studio and doesn’t just work the front desk. Still, she has hope this national awakening will create lasting change. “Black business has been seen and will hopefully now begin to be valued as much as we deserve. I don’t think anyone is saying our business is better, simply we are equal,” she says. 

Despite the city’s segregation, no matter where you live in Chicago, there are Black-owned businesses, and supporting them means supporting the larger movement for equality and justice. In a post circulating social media, poet Lindsay Young wrote “Resistance is NOT a one lane highway. Maybe your lane is protesting, maybe your lane is organizing, maybe your lane is counseling, maybe your lane is art activism, maybe your lane is surviving the day. Do NOT feel guilty for not occupying every lane. We need all of them.” 

Evaluate purchases you are already making — food, clothes, coffee, gym, grooming — and simply swap in a Black-owned business for your current store of habit when it makes sense to do so.

To make it as easy as possible, we’ve rounded up a collection of Chicago’s Black-owned businesses, sorted into both categories and regions for quick reference. With 100 businesses, there are ample opportunities to put your money where your black Instagram square is and have a positive impact on Chicago. 

South


Bronzeville, Chatham, Englewood, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Grand Crossing, Hyde Park, Kenwood, South Commons, South Shore, Stony Island, Washington Park 

Photo courtesy of Mabe’s Deli

Food

Beverages

Fitness and Self Care

Clothing

West


Austin, East Garfield Park, Greektown, Humboldt Park, Little Italy, Pilsen, West Loop, West Town, Wicker Park

Photo courtesy of honoré

Food

Beverages

Fitness and Self Care

Clothing

Home

North


Andersonville, Edgewater, Lake View, Lincoln Park, North Center, Ravenswood, Rogers Park, Uptown

Photo courtesy of Free Mvmt’s Facebook

Food

Beverages

Fitness and Self Care

Home

Downtown


Loop, Near North Side, Near South Side, South Loop, West Loop

Food

Beverages

Home

Online

Food & Beverage

Fitness and Self Care

Clothing

Home