The Black Mall co-founders Dre Meekins and Cassiopeia Uhuru pose were dressed for the occassion at the 3rd Annual TBM Awards [Photo by Matt Marion]

WASHINGTON PARK — The Black Mall, the online directory for black-owned businesses, honored companies over Memorial Day weekend in an effort to recognize their work and make them neighborhood celebrities.

The directory honored 100 popular black-owned businesses, creatives and service providers in Chicago at their 3rd Annual TBM Awards Sunday night.

Hosted by local comedian Wildcat at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E 56th Pl., the awards event recognized businesses and individuals in categories such as “Best Media,” “Best Political Alliance,” “Best Playwright,” “Best Restaurant” and more.

The winners of the TBM Awards were selected based on votes each nominee received during an open online voting period prior to the ceremony. Each of the total 25 categories had four nominees.

Dre Meekins, co-founder of The Black Mall, said the process of nominating businesses and service providers for awards, voting for favorites and displaying the results could have all be done online. But by hosting an actual event to showcase the winners, the business owners and service providers received special recognition in front of the community.

“We want our business owners to be our celebrities because they’re the people out here doing the work,” he said. “They are agents of change in our community and we want to celebrate them as such.”

Winners of TBM Awards received golden bricks as trophies which symbolize foundation building and economic development, according to Meekins. He said all of the nominees received recognition on’s website which has a database of 100,000 people.

If you ask Cassiopeia Uhuru, co-founder of The Black Mall, there is no time better than the present to start supporting black-owned businesses.

“Everyone has been asking me how I’ve been doing for these last couple of days. I’m good because what I’ve seen more of is this pride, this glow of people being so excited about Black businesses,” she said. “We want people to come in while we’re still growing it, don’t just come in when we are huge.”

Uhuru was a walking model for the TBM Awards. She wore a dress made by “Best Fashion/Apparel” nominee Passport by SP and her makeup was styled by “Best Skin Care/Cosmetics” nominee AUSET: BEAUTY.

Julissa Crawford, owner/operator J’ Marie Photography, won her ever TBM Award on Sunday. [Photo by Matt Marion]

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