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Jacksonville Melanin Market

Posted by Onassis Krown on
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The Melanin Market boasts that they are Jacksonville's Largest Marketplace for Black-Owned Businesses. The Melanin Market's mission is to create a platform that highlights minority-owned businesses, products, and services while providing a setting for fellowship with customers and the community. The Melanin Market features many vendors selling clothing, jewelry, fashion accessories and more!

History of the Melanin Market

The inspiration for the Melanin Market on Jacksonville's Eastside, which on Saturday begins its sixth year promoting Black businesses, was a similar event that virtually ignored such businesses.

In December 2016 an organization planned a street fair on A. Philip Randolph Boulevard, the major thoroughfare of the neighborhood, and sought advice from Dawn Curling, a third-generation Eastside entrepreneur, and other leaders. But the organization, which Curling declined to name, ultimately had the event in an area dominated by parking, not Black businesses.

It did not go over well in the community. "We were very upset. We felt bamboozled," she said.

Jacksonville's African-American Pop-Up Shop Event 

So Curling, whose late grandfather was Edward "Cockey" Williams owned several businesses on the A. Philip Randolph Boulevard corridor, gathered 15 to 20 neighborhood business owners to have their "own little sidewalk market," she said.

That successful venture led to the first Melanin Market — Melanin is a dark-brown to black pigment responsible for skin coloration — in February 2017. The market was on a stretch of A. Philip Randolph Boulevard that is filled with businesses and had about 100 vendors and 800 participants.

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Now planned quarterly, the market not only promotes Black businesses but the Eastside itself and has helped prompt new attention to the area. Among the initiatives are an alliance of nonprofits, including Historic Eastside CDC and LIFT JAX, working to end poverty and revitalize the neighborhood.

Pride is building in the neighborhood, despite its long "bad reputation," and at the market, which at first had little name recognition but is now a popular attraction, Curling said.

"I feel privileged to be here," she said. "I really feel the market is making people come out … We're trying to bring light into this neighborhood."

Melanin Market Contact Info

This year's Black History Month event will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at 822 A. Philip Randolph Blvd. between Phelps and East Union streets. In addition to business vendors, there will be live music, DJ, kids zone and food trucks. The noon parade will start at TIAA Bank Field Lot J and end at the market. For more information, call (904) 701-7555, email or go to

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