Harding H.S. assistant principal hopes to encourage the next generation of urban entrepreneurs
Bridgeport’s Vernon Thompson is trying to teach his students about what he calls “the rich history and bright future of the Park City” - also known as Bridgeport.
To reach his students, he is using hip-hop music videos to do it.
“Stratford Avenue is known for crime, but for over 50 years, it housed many Black-owned businesses,” explains Thompson.
His latest video focuses on former NAACP president Julian Braxton who used to own a men’s clothing store, Braxton's Men's Shop, in the East End on Stratford Ave.
The shop was torn down to make way for the area’s first major supermarket.
Thompson says the legacy Braxton created should still live on in the hearts and minds of Bridgeport’s aspiring entrepreneurs.
One gentleman Thompson spoke to recalls shopping at Braxton’s shop.
“It didn’t matter what color, creed you were,” he says. “Mr. Braxton served you. He treated you like a person.”
In the film, Thompson exclaims, “It’s 50 years in business, bear witness to Black excellence.” It is that excellence that Thompson hopes to inspire in today’s youth so they can add to the city’s history.
“We hope as the face of Stratford Avenue changes, entrepreneurship opportunities open for young minority businesses,” says Thompson.