pt.1 feature
By Lauren Wong

I got the chance to attend the Black Business Owners Coalition of Glendale’s first ever, community sponsored, Juneteenth event. The event took place downtown Glendale, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. June 11. The Founder of the Black Business Owners Coalition of Glendale, Marcia Garland, began the morning off with an admirable speech to kickstart the day. It was beautiful hearing her passion pour out of her while she stood in front of her peers. 

Going into the event I wanted to cover it, but not in your traditional way. All the details of events are available online for anyone to see. I wanted to put my focus into the people, the individuals that showed up there and give them a chance to have their voices heard. 

With that in mind, I walked around with only one question in mind; “What is your story?” I wanted each person to take that in any way they wanted. From what they do in life, to what they believe in, to what brought them to the day’s event. 

With no other background on how to answer the question, here are some of the responses I got… More individuals will be featured in “What’s Your Story (Part 2).”

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Vanessa Attawia

Daughter and Executive Coordinator of, Business Owner Bernadette Attawia (Ms. B), of Hephzibah Designs (company)
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“Hephzibah actually comes from the Bible, it means ‘God’s Delight.’ What my mom wanted to do with that name was share God’s love with the world, and I guess the best way to do that is share the talents she’s been given by God and try to share the joy of color to the rest of the world. A lot of people don’t really wear a lot of color, that’s not a bad thing, but there’s also so many different colors, so many different patterns that’ve never been seen by the public eye.”

“As we grow and move forward, as things move forward especially with Civil Rights, people are, I think, wanting to add more to the community. What we want to do is add more to the community in a way of making people feel like they want to dress up, want to feel good. They are God’s delight so they should dress as such, or feel as such. The way you dress doesn’t really matter, it’s about the way you feel matters the most. Hephzibah Designs has a lot to do with that and that’s what we wanted to share to the world, not just to Arizona or the United States.”

“Most of everything in the store is made by my mom, and then the rest is imported directly from Ghana. Currently as I am talking right now, my mom is in Ghana… It’s helpful to the people in Ghana because we’re trying to help them as well with their economy, and try to get some money circulating there. It’s not just us buying things from there just to make money, no, it’s a whole community thing. There’s a bigger plan at hand, as always, as we think God is doing now. There’s always things at play and we just want to help as many people as possible.”

Greg Cambell

Chairman of the New Alliance Party
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“We’re actually a group of people who were sick and tired of being sick and tired. Many of them have been democrats, many of them have been republicans, and they are tired of people not really doing anything.”

“I’m here in Arizona and we get up and fight the good fight everyday, so we’ve been around here since 1988. I’ve traveled to almost every state and been to Costa Rica, the Virgin Islands, fighting for the rights of everybody. The problem with democracy is, we don’t have enough of it. You may see us in the laundry rooms, you may see us in the big ballrooms… but we have to see what our country is doing instead of just the few people running it.”

Marcia Garland

Reverend Marcia Garland, Founder- Black Business Owners Coalition of Glendale
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“My story is about the tangible changes that Women of Faith can bring into our Communities as a result of our Acts of Obedience.”

Atasha Hill

Published children’s book author, What I Want, by A. Hill
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“I started wanting to teach children about financial literacy because I spent about 12 years in the financial aid industry getting kids into school for college. One of the biggest things that I saw is that families just weren’t financially prepared. You had great, wonderful, hardworking families… sending their first child off to college, expecting grants and scholarships to be able to cover everything, and quite honestly, for the average American, it just doesn’t.”

“One of the things I realized quite quickly was that we don’t really talk about finances, or talk about establishing good credit here in America. Being a capitalist nation, I think we need to do a better job at that. I think it needs to start in grade school and continue all the way up to when you’re 18.”

“That’s why I wanted to start my book, What I Want, to teach children and teach families how to talk to their children about finances so when their kids are adults, and are entering into adulthood, they’re well prepared for financial success.”

Wayne Monton

Chef/Owner at Texas Rib Shack
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“My story is really simple, I was caught up in the 80s during the Reagan Administration and his policies on crack cocaine. So, I got caught up in that whole system and got sent to prison at an early age for falling under those draconian policies that were sending a lot of young black men to prison… Once I was in, I 100% felt like a slave, I don’t know what I was expecting, but when I got there I felt like ‘oh my God I am a slave.’ The first thing that came to my mind, I am a slave.”

“So, I made up my mind that I would never, ever allow myself to get put in a position to get caught up in any draconian laws whatsoever, and to be misused and to be mistreated and go through the criminal unjust system. I just decided that it would never happen to me again. I started selling shoes, I started being an entrepreneur, and the last seven years I ended up cooking. I found my niche, I’m really a great cook. When I got my shoe store when I moved to Arizona in 2012, I did really great and I used the same tactics I used selling cocaine. I used those same philosophies to do it legitimately and I’ve been winning, winning, winning.”

“I tell all the youngsters, don’t get caught up in the hurrah and throw your life away living off of rap and tv, you better take a real close look at it and say ‘hey, I’m going to have fun, I’m going to dance, I’m going to boogie, but I’m not going to get into what they’re talking about,’ because it’s only going to lead you down the wrong path. You’re going to end up in a cell thinking, ‘God how did I get in here?’ And it hits you like a ton of bricks, you got in here because you put yourself in a position to get here.”

“At the end of the day, I had to blame myself because I am the only one who can change my reality. So that’s what I did. I met my wife, she was a political activist, working for the Obama campaign. She was doing her thing and I felt really privileged to even take her out on a date, I mean I felt like I got a Mercedes Benz when I got to take her out. I’ve been out of trouble, I’ve been having money, I’ve been successful in business, and I’m not going to say it’s because of her, but I can say that that foundation is so stable because I have an amazing wife who understands my past, understands where I want to go in the future, and really helps our family get there. She’s the icing on the cake.”

“This Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, not just back then, but for even now because so many people are waking up to the injustices that all Americans face, especially African Americans. So Juneteenth is a time of reckoning, awakening, appreciation, and to look back, and look at now, and look at where we need to go. That’s what Juneteenth, to me, is all about.”