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Meet Ohun Ashe of ForTheCultureSTL

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ohun Ashe.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Like many, the murder of Mike Brown Jr. on August 9th, 2014 changed the entire trajectory of my life. I was working in corporate America and living the life society told me was the “American dream”. While I was aware of the corruption in the (in)justice system, Mike Brown Jr., opened my eyes to just how deep it is.

My background is multimedia so I started out as a citizen journalist. I would record protests, direct actions, meetings, and anything that was movement related and post it on my social media platforms, to keep the community aware of what was going on.

I was very shy and timid at the time so I stayed behind the scenes until 2017; the indictment trial of ex-officer Jason Stockley for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith. We, the St. Louis protest community, knew that Jason Stockley would not be indicted so we decided to organize around the verdict. That is when Expect Us was born. This is when I put my organizing hat on. For over 90 days we held protests that directly impacted the economy in St. Louis. In 2018, when the protests started to slow down and my peers went into politics, and policy, and started their own organizations; I sat back and thought, “What’s next for me?”

That’s when I channeled my love for the Black community, Black business, and all of our things. I launched, a website for Black businesses and events in the St. Louis region on April 1st, 2018. Four years later and ForTheCultureSTL is an international brand, utilized all over the world and we host events here in St. Louis that promote equity in Black business, mental/physical health, and community engagement. I found my voice.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Nothing worth having is ever a smooth process. I’ve dealt with hate from folks who do not agree with uplifting Blackness, I’ve been arrested at protests and been caught up in the legal system, ForTheCultureSTL is not a non-profit so funding is always a challenge, staying motivated can be difficult at times but you keep stepping forward.

I’ve learned that it will next be a steady progression, there will be bumps in the road, hills to climb, and valleys to cross but as long as you keep stepping forward, even if it’s baby steps, that’s all that matter. Challenges come but so does overcoming.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about ForTheCultureSTL?
ForTheCultureSTL is a website and organization that promotes Black folks and our things.

The website houses over 500 Black-owned businesses in the St. Louis region, it has an event calendar that uplifts events by or safe for Black folks to attend, we have a map that works like a google map that populates Black-owned businesses and we host an annual digital catalog that is open to Black business across the world. We are dedicated to the growth of Blackness.

We also host events that are typically free and center on mental/physical health, equity in the Black business, and community engagement. The events we curate are meant for healing within our community through love, support, and uplift.

We’d love to hear what you think about risk-taking.
Anytime you step out on a dream you have, you’re taking a risk. We don’t take risks because we want to stay in our comfort zone. It is so vital for your dreams and your personal growth to get outside of that comfort zone.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Matt Seidel and Nyara Williams

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