HOUSTON — Texas resident Calvin Martyr wants to bring the black community together in economic solidarity through a nationwide movement called Blackout 2020.
The death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody has struck a chord in the hearts of Americans concerned about the mistreatment of black residents in the United States.
The Facebook group #BlackoutDay2020 was created May 8, but since Floyd’s death on May 25, the private group has rapidly grown to more than 720,000 members as people search for peaceable ways to spark change.
And it continues to gain tens of thousands of new members each day.
The movement focuses on July 7, 2020, a day when supporters have committed to only spending money at black-owned businesses; this includes banks, grocery stores, gas stations, hair salons and all forms of commerce.
"We're going to not spend our dollars in the economy," Martyr says in a video explaining his mission. "I believe, we believe, that if we unite enough people for one day to not spend their dollars, it will make an impact in the economy, and they will take notice."
Martyr claims black consumers account for an estimated $1.2 trillion in economic spending, or what his supporters call economic power. He and his supporters hope the boycott will force stronger efforts to stop police brutality and abolish institutional racism in the United States.
"If you must spend a dollar," Martyr adds, "spend it with a black business only. We're building a tool for you to be able to shop anywhere in the country with black businesses."
He said the boycott will start with one day, but he plans to organize future blackouts for longer periods— weeks, months and possibly even blackout years.
Martyr said people of all races are invited to participate, but his message is that it’s a movement for black people created by black people.
Popular voices within the black and Latino community are showing support for the group, including music artist and producer T.I. He encouraged his followers to participate in the #BlackOutDay2020 boycott in an Instagram post.
Inside the group, members post listings of black owned businesses including independent contractors and other professionals like doctors, lawyers and mechanics in their city.
There are also discussions around statements made by Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and other civil rights leaders about how the community should move forward.
Some members have taken on special roles as “mentors,” volunteering to give guidance and their services free of charge to those who need them. The tab features profiles from therapists, entrepreneurs, journalists, and even hairstylists and graphic designers.
Martyr and the group administrators are also encouraging members to have constructive conversations about problems within the black community, banning partisan political posts and “polarizing” debates.
You can register for the movement or learn more information at BlackoutDay.org