SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – A festival in Clark County celebrated black-owned businesses Saturday, and family members of Deputy Matthew Yates were there to show their support.
The first full-scale Soko Place Festival was held at Covenant United Methodist Church in Springfield.
Local black-owned businesses set up, along with entertainment and performers throughout the day, with the goal to keep the money spent today in the community.
“We just want the communities to support black businesses, especially on the south side of Springfield,” Covenant United Methodist Church Pastor Jawwad Love said.
Soko means market in Swahili.
Pastor Love wanted to create a marketplace to bring culture, community and black-owned businesses together.
“There’s a there’s a saying that the black dollar doesn’t stay long in the black community, so we wanted to have this festival to make an effort to make sure that that dollar circulates among the community before it goes out of the community,” Love said.
Deputy Matthew Yates’ uncle and mother attended the festival Saturday.
“We come out because there’s been so much sadness for everyone,” Deputy Yates’ uncle Otis Williams said. “We thought we’d come out today and enjoy a special occasion like this. Bringing neighborhood together, people recognizing each other, having a friendly conversation and just enjoying one another.”
Yate’s mother Lisa Yates said these are the kinds of events he loved.
“He would be out here dancing and eating,” Lisa Yates said. “He’d be buying up stuff. He loves things like this.”
Williams said an event that supports the community like this is exactly what Deputy Yates stood for.
“He was going to feel what you feel to make his job a little bit better for you and him, and that’s what police work is, working with the community,” Williams said.
Even though Saturday’s event is over, the organizers encourage supporting local black businesses year-round and plan to hold more markets like this in the future.