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#BlackJobsMatter: A Wilmington Experiment prompts discussion about job creation

 

Wilmington playwright Gregory Lloyd Morris is using his new one-act play to express the frustrations he and other African Americans have faced due to unemployment.

Its title: #BlackJobsMatter: A Wilmington Experiment.

 

Local playwright Gregory Lloyd Morris used the characters in his one-act piece to give voice to the frustrations unemployment has caused him and other African Americans he knows.

 

"I wrote it in one week in large part because I was unemployed myself so I knew exactly that the emotions and things that needed to be convened in that story were," he said. "I was writing from my own pain, from my own issues dealing with lack and being a dad as well."

 

During the second quarter of 2016, the United States’ unemployment rate for African Americans was nearly double that of whites:  8.3 percent compared to 4.2 percent.

 

And Morris’s “Wilmington Experiment” idea: incentivize businesses to open up shop in the city’s zip codes of 19801, 19802 and 19805 and hire locals.

There was a full house Wednesday for the #BlackJobsMatter play.
 
In the audience were Dimitri Jean-Louis, a resident of Newark and his girlfriend Cherne Bishop, a small business owner and Wilmington.

Bishop opened her business Cherne Altovise last October, sharing the space with MizInk at 316 N Market. She just hired a part-time sales employee.

They’re both worried about the lack of jobs available for African Americans in Wilmington – and that resonated with the play’s title.

"The way they’re rebuilding the city a lot of things remain to be seen," Jean-Louis said. "I guess some level of gentrification is going on but I guess that’s going to bring some job opportunities. Hopefully that falls into the hands of the people in the city."

He sees Wilmington as a microcosm of issues the country faces, with African Americans almost twice as likely as whites to be unemployed nationally.

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Delaware Public Media's Megan Pauly reports on the play #BlackJobsMatter: A Wilmington Experiment.

  They’d like to see more African Americans start their own businesses, creating more of an entrepreneurial spirit in Wilmington. And they’d like to see Market St. continue to grow and thrive, with shops staying open later to create more jobs and attract more people.

 

"I’d like to stay open, but it wouldn’t make sense if everyone else was closed at 6," Bishop said.

 

Bishop is working to change the 9-5 vibe of Market St. by creating a pop-up market called Melanin on Market, celebrating black businesses and culture – running Thursday -Saturday from 5- 10 p.m. on the 200-300 blocks of Market, the location of several African American run businesses.

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