Disney properties may be the “happiest place on Earth,” but they certainly haven’t been the most diverse. Downtown Disney, adjacent to the Disneyland property in Anaheim, California, features a row of unique eateries, upscale shops and entertainment for the park’s guests.
But the shopping mecca has been trying to bolster a lacking diversified shopping experience by showcasing minority business ownership, management, products and suppliers.
A mother-daughter duo behind the first Black-owned business at Downtown Disney started their shop specializing in craftspeople of color as a tribute to the historic struggles and perseverance of Black companies in America. Mother and daughter Juana Williams and Blair Paysinger created Post 21 as a “they would want to shop.” Disney sought out the pair to help them with their diversity shopping issues.
Post 21 takes its name from the tragic history of the Black Wall Street area in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Tulsa Race Massacre occurred over 18 hours from May 31 to June 1, 1921, when a white mob attacked residents, homes and businesses in Tulsa’s predominantly Black Greenwood neighborhood. The event remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history, and until recently, one of the least known even though hundreds were killed and more than a thousand homes were burned.
Williams and Paysinger see June 1, 1921, and every day since the Tulsa Race Massacre as Post 1921 and want to continue their legacy and build upon it. The mom and daughter duo were recently heralded in an East Bay Times (EBT) article for their innovative and groundbreaking shop, which features design-forward apparel, decor, art, jewelry and beauty products made by Black creatives and businesses. Their goal is to turn their favorite products made by Black craftspeople from up-and-coming entrepreneurial discovery to household names.
Williams grew up in the Jefferson Park area of Los Angeles, working in her father’s stores surrounded by Black pediatricians, dentists, accountants, lawyers and bankers that were vital parts of the community. Her family patronized Black-owned dry cleaners, bakeries and taco stands in the neighborhood. “Our whole purpose is to advance Black businesses,” Williams told EBT. “We’re bringing all the Black businesses that we work with along with us, so they have the Disney opportunity as well.”
Downtown Disney property manager Robert Clunie told EBT “It was just such a unique story. Their story was one of the things that attracted us to them.”