DENVER — The reignited Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd has sparked a push to support local black-owned businesses.
Ryan Cobbins owns Coffee at The Point, located in Five Points, the heart of Denver’s historic African American community. He says in the last few days, he's received countless calls and messages from locals asking how they can help support him.
"Number one thing is to come out and support (our business)," he said.
Cobbins opened his business 10 years ago.
“There is not a lot of chocolate people doing coffee,” Cobbins said.
At times he describes feeling like he was on an island fending on his own but said he had the support of black business owners.
“There is a whole other set of challenges for black-owned businesses (and) access to capital is one,” Cobbins said.
The death of George Floyd sparked protests across the nation, and four officers face charges for his death. His killing brought racism to the forefront.
“I recognize that reform has to, needs to, happen and I think it’s going to come through conversations and a coalition of folks," he said. "It can’t just be one group of folks fighting for change — it has to be a coalition of people from all different races."
Cobbins said he has been the target of discrimination, but chooses to focus on the positive and creating an environment where people can feel comfortable asking questions about race they may not understand.
Before COVID-19, Cobbins said he hosted events to spark a dialogue about ongoing issues in the community to increase awareness and shed light on different perspectives.
“We opened up our place after hours on a Sunday with a group that were deeply anti-police and the police to come through and have a conversation,” Cobbins said. “We enjoy creating a space where folks can come in and break bread, folks from different places.”
He said he is skeptical change will come of all of the protests, but adds that building bridges with people who think differently is a start.