As Sacramento celebrates the accomplishments of African-Americans during Black History Month, it continues to invest in programs that encourage increasing participation in the economic community.
On one hand, there is Sacramento’s effort to bring the fledgling and potentially lucrative state cannabis industry to minorities through a new marijuana equity program. On the other, the California Museum is presenting a reminder of just how much African-Americans have accomplished in the past four centuries.
Both efforts are expected to garner local attention in the African-American community and beyond.
The city’s weed equity program, authorized unanimously by the Sacramento City Council last November, is designed to improve representation of people of color and women among the dozens of new businesses expected to open as a result of the state’s law allowing recreational marijuana sales as of Jan. 1. Blacks make up only 4.3 percent of all persons with a stake in marijuana businesses, according to a study by Marijuana Business Daily.
Over the next two years, the Cannabis Opportunity, Reinvestment and Equity (CORE) program will use $1 million of city-allocated funds to help minorities obtain mentorships, legal advisement and technical services, as well as reduce or eliminate barriers such as business permits and background checks, according to Sacramento’s Chief of Cannabis Enforcement, Joe Devlin.
Such efforts will give the groups a better chance to enter an industry that is expected to generate at least $2 billion and create 8,000 jobs statewide in 2018, and result in a demand for about 40 tons of cannabis in the Sacramento-area over the next three years, according to a study by the University of the Pacific.
They will also typically save a new business about $25,000 to $65,000 in startup costs, according to Devlin.
“The intent of the program is to really promote and establish some equity within the cannabis industry,” Devlin recently told FOX40. “We just want to make sure opportunities for ownership are across multiple sectors.”
It will also offer a bit of compensation, figuratively speaking, to a group that was four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Sacramento than whites in 2016, according to a report by the Sacramento Bee.
Program details still need to be finalized, but Devlin is sure it will all come together. “It is simply the right thing to do,” he says.
Woven in Pain
Meanwhile, the California Museum hopes to inform Sacramentans of African-Americans’ long and unfinished road toward equal rights. “And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations,” which opened Tuesday, weaves its way down 400 years of that road with 67 quilts created by artists from the Women of Color Quilters Network.
California Museum Executive Director Amanda Meeker says the quilts, which address topics such as civil rights, race relations, border security, immigration and gender equality “inspire reflection on issues still challenging America in 2018, and inspires visitors to address them by standing up for their rights and the rights of others.”
Each handcrafted piece of art depicts a part of the nation’s slow evolution toward a more-equitable society, she adds. Attendees who follow the exhibit’s storyline – from the 1600s to present day – will see and hear a running history of key social issues facing African Americans over the years.
“The exhibition gives voices to personal, authentic and unique histories of African American men and women,” says Women of Color Quilters Network founder Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, the event’s curator. “[There are] painful stories of enslaved ancestors, and ones highlighting contemporary political leaders and drawing attention to social challenges our nation continues to face today.”
Among the examples:
- “240 Million Slaves Ago” describes the history of the 12-foot-wall built by indentured servants and enslaved African and Native American workers around Manhattan Island in 1653. Designed to protect the settlement from invasion by the British, the wall later became the site of New York’s Wall Street – a symbol of “the ways America’s economic and power structures were built on bondage and inequality,” Mazloomi says.
- “Cathy Williams – Buffalo Girl” recounts the tale of a freed female slave who served in the Buffalo Soldiers’ 38th Infantry disguised as a man – the only known cross-gender individual to serve in the military in the 19th century.
- “Life Scene” memorializes abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass for advocating equality among all races, colors and genders.
- “The Ascension” celebrates former President Barack Obama as the first African American to serve in the White House.
- “Mammy’s Golden Legacy” pays homage to Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to be nominated for an Academy Award® in 1939. She won Best Supporting Actress for her role as “Mammy” in “Gone With the Wind.”
“And Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations” also showcases quilting’s appeal as a uniquely American folk art, according to Meeker. Various techniques such as free-motion quilting, embroidery, needlepoint, appliqué, fiber collage, fusing and hand beading are explored, along with various textiles and materials, such as photographic transfers and found objects.
The exhibit will be on display at the California Museum through May 27. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; and closed Mondays. Admission $9 for adults; $7.50 for seniors and college students with valid ID; $7 for youth age 6-17; and free for kids 5 and younger.