What went wrong for black-owned businesses | Readers respond

The high white horse landmark sign is reflected in a parking lot puddle in Lawnside.

On Tuesday, Karen E. Quinones Miller, an African-American journalist and historian, argued that racial integration in the 1960s meant the demise of many black-owned businesses and communities. Citing the deterioration of Lawnside, New Jersey, Quinones insisted that re-instating the economic segregation of African-American businesses can reclaim the economic power of African-Americans. Readers responded strongly Miller’s opinion.

[Read the original story: A South Jersey hotspot represents what went wrong for black-owned businesses]

One reader reflected on the deterioration of a beloved neighborhood. Rose Fitzgerald of Haddon Heights emailed in to say:

 “Lawnside is still a thriving middle class community, but I too have always mourned the loss of the “cotton clubs” as we called them when I was a child in the 1960’s. We used to pass through Lawnside every Sunday night coming from Ashland to Runnemede. Evesham Road was literally packed with people going from the restaurants and bars on one side to the amusement on the other.  (Now it’s a movie theater and strip mall.) I shop in Lawnside’s stores now but always wished those restaurants survived and became destination restaurants. It has happened to many of America’s ethnic groups; in our joy at being accepted and assimilated, we lose our roots!”

The piece was posted in the popular Facebook community Black on Black Info, which is followed by more than 214,000 people.

Some Black on Black Info community members agreed with Miller’s piece, lamenting less support for black-owned businesses in recent years.


Meanwhile other Philly.com readers disagreed strongly with Miller’s piece. Ralph D. Block of Rydal emailed:

“Karen E. Quinones Miller has written one of the most asinine articles I have read in quite awhile.  The real end of segregation and the intermingling of races bodes nothing but good for this country.  Money doesn’t care the color of the hand that spends it but only value received.  White people have enriched black entertainers, patronize black restaurants serving what they want to eat and do not care who owns a business or service desired.”

Charlie Baltimore of Olde Kensington vehemently disagreed with the very concept of segregation on any level:

“Simply one of the most imbecilic ideas I have heard in a long time. It is this type of approach that has given birth to our current culture of “us against them” around the world. Rather than pointing fingers, I submit it would be far more effective to redirect our attention to within. As a people, we must engage in an honest journey of self-discovery, unity, and prioritize education, family and spiritual development. Then, instead of retreating from the melting pot, we can contribute more robustly to create a more inclusive economic system.”

Others argued that there cannot be a two-way street when talking about “black” versus “white” businesses, including Jim Cres, who wrote on Philly.com’s Facebook page:

Readers respond

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