Gov. Gavin Newsom visited a pair of small businesses in Oakland on Thursday in an effort to tout his administration’s support for them as they reopen.
Newsom met with local officials in downtown Oakland and visited Graffiti Pizza and Beastmode Barbershop, the latter owned by former NFL star and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch.
The visit came just two days after the state lifted pandemic-era capacity restrictions and mask requirements for businesses and fully vaccinated people.
Newsom said that while he expects the reopening to spur the state’s economy as more and more people feel comfortable venturing back out into society, he also expects it to mend social bonds both among strangers and friends and families.
“This is not just about dollars and cents,” he said. “It’s about a magical moment. It’s about community — small business is about community, about people coming together across their differences.”
Local officials argued that the confluence of Tuesday’s reopening and Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of Black slaves, on Saturday also represented a chance to support Black-owned businesses in Oakland, including both Graffiti Pizza and Beastmode Barbershop.
“We’re excited, because we want to challenge ourselves to create something together as Black people so that we can operate with some level of normalcy,” Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Cathy Adams said. “Everything does not have to be a struggle.”
Adams noted that the chamber issued 250 relief grants totaling $1.1 million last year to Black-owned businesses in Oakland.
The state also plans to make $4 billion in small business relief grants available as part of the state budget Newsom and the Legislature continue to negotiate.
“We want to be there for those that that are limping along, trying to get back on their feet,” Newsom said. “We want to be there for those that feel displaced and impacted.”