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Black business owners in the King neighborhood reflect on Martin Luther King day

Three business owners shared their thoughts with KGW on where we're headed after 2020 as a community, and how to lift each other up along the way.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Cole Reed co-owns GreenHAUS Gallery in Northeast Portland. She is as open as the doors to her business.

“When people leave here I want them to go to their house with joy. I'm serious,” she said.

GreenHAUS sits just off Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Reed is proud of the location, and thankful for the community around her. “I'm fortunate to have a community that is fueling the tank and change.”

Chris Guinn III works a block away as co-owner of Dwell Realty and Property Management. The pride stretches over to his business as well. “Well, for one thing, I want to say I feel really proud to have our business on MLK Boulevard. I have always been proud of that,” Guinn said.

Born and raised in Portland, he acknowledges it’s a vibrant city with a dark past. “We've always been able to move a couple steps forward and then evidently, we move a step or two back sometimes,” he said. 

“In terms of what we've been through last year, and racial tensions and whatnot, I definitely think this MLK Day is definitely one that sticks out a little bit more.”

“That's what King was all about and we want this nation to be healed. We don't want this nation to be divided, any longer,” said Theotis Cason, owner of Cason’s Fine Meats. “I grew up as a little boy running up and down the streets and watching it grow and watching it change. Some change for the better. Some change, not so good.”

Driving forward, especially down the boulevard, is a reminder of the progress made, but how far we have to go still.

“Let's keep driving, let's go forward,” said Cason. “But let's pick the ones up that’s down. Let's give him a chance.”

On a day of reflection and remembrance, how can we respond as a country and a community and move forward together?

“The past is important but the future…is definitely what we should strive to make better, and hopefully we can, as people and as a city, as citizens,” Guinn said.

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