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Blackout Day 2020 is here, encouraging spending only at Black-owned businesses

Black consumers account for $3.5 billion of buying power per day. The organizer of Blackout Day hopes to use that power to send a message.

Tuesday is Blackout Day, an initiative that calls for Black Americans to only spend their money at Black-owned businesses. It's getting increased visibility amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice launched by the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others.

The idea started with a YouTube video from Calvin Martyr, an activist from Texas. The video was first posted on May 8. 

That was the day after Gregory and Travis McMichael, a father and son, were arrested and charged with the murder of Arbery. The 25-year-old Black man was pursued and fatally shot while running near Brunswick, Georgia, in February. Charges were filed after a video of the incident went public, sparking outrage. A third man was later arrested and charged.

It was 18 days after those arrests that Floyd, a Black man, died in Minneapolis after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes. A bystander video of that incident triggered the movement that has led to large protests across the country.

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Martyr said if the money of Black Americans was shifted away from non-Black businesses, it would be equal to the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. when Blacks refused to ride the bus for more than a year after Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat to a white man.

"The only way as a people that we will get any change is if we unite solidarity with the dollar," Martyr said.

Nielsen reported that in 2018, Black consumers had an annual buying power of $1.3 trillion. Divide that by 365 and the buying power of black consumers for one day comes out to $3.5 billion.

"If we could do it for one day, it would shut the whole system down. Not one black person spent a dollar, I guarantee we'll get change," Martyr said.

According to Google, searches for “Black owned businesses near me” reached an all-time high last month in the U.S. Yelp has also made it easier for customers to search for Black-owned establishments on the restaurant review site, and Uber Eats says it'll waive delivery fees for purchases from Black-owned restaurants through the end of the year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.