(Written by Kyrus Keenan Westcott) While reading about B.O.B.O.B.S. and their mission, you may often see the words “Sweet Auburn” mentioned multiple times by B.O.B.O.B.S.(Black Owned & Black Operated Business Supporters) founder, David Crawford. This is mainly because Sweet Auburn refers to David’s historic hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. In Atlanta, there is a historically African American neighborhood known as The Sweet Auburn Historic District that has origins that go all the way back to the early 20th century. This Sweet Auburn district is 1.5 mile stretch of commercial businesses and social hubs that were created and ran the black community. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976, this district would serve as the inspiration for David’s vision of connecting black owned and operated businesses all over the country.
An Atlanta Race Riot in 1906 was beginning of what would eventually become the most vital “black business” area in the city of Atlanta. Before this race riot took place, most of the black owned and operated businesses operated mainly in downtown Atlanta, but competing white businesses only triggered a lot more fear and tension in the downtown Atlanta area. This tension led to the race riot of 1906 and resulted in many African Americans relocating to an area west of downtown Atlanta, on a street named Auburn Avenue.
From here, black owned and black operated businesses began to grow and spawn in that area. In fact, the city’s first black owned life insurance company, known as Atlanta Mutual, opened its doors on “Sweet” Auburn Avenue. From there, the area turned into a celebrated area of black businesses, black newspapers, black churches, and black nightclubs.
Unfortunately, like many inner-city neighborhoods in the United States, Sweet Auburn was claimed as another victim of bad investments, widespread crime, homelessness, and abandonment. Things were not looking good, until the year 2005 when the Historic District Development Corporation was created in order to turn this unfortunate trend around. Since 2005, the HDDC has been working on preserving and renovating the Auburn Avenue area, particularly the areas surrounding the birth home of civil rights legend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.