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Candid Yams Kickback keeps community conversations going

Candid Yams Kickback keeps community conversations going
March 31
06:46 2022

By John Railey

Think of Rashad Little, who marched in the band while at Winston-Salem State University, like a drum major, one starting community conversations on topical issues at events he hosts through his business, Candid Yams Kickback (CYK). “People seem really excited about it,” he said recently. “It’s pretty cool.”

Little, who graduated from WSSU in 2010 and works in education, started CYK in 2016 with the help of the school’s Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM). Little was one of the first to use CSEM’s Community Acceleration Research Track, started and administered by CSEM Associate Director Alvin Atkinson. Minority-run businesses and nonprofits are crucial engines for reversing generations of poverty in their communities. In the competitive fields in which they operate, they need experienced hands to reach their full potential. CSEM provides that assistance through the Acceleration Track, which helps start-up businesses in the communities surrounding the Winston-Salem State campus. The track also helps WSSU students, aligning with an emphasis of WSSU Chancellor Robinson.

The accelerator program helped Little map a strategy for growing his business, both online and offline. “CSEM’s support has been instrumental,” Little said. “The most important thing when you’re developing business and community is to keep in mind that people have different tools you need to utilize.”

The name of Little’s business comes from the importance of straight talk and his mother’s festive food, the latter point being a salute to coming together. CYK also features “soul food,” Little said. CYK holds events at local businesses that promote those businesses, and drives traffic to Little’s social media sites. Little blends music and film at the events. 

In the last year, with the help of his friend Crystal Taylor of Durham, Little said he has held events at the Durham Bulls baseball stadium to help the ball team grow its Black fans. He showed the films “Best of Enemies,” “Just Mercy,” “Selma,” ?Black Panther,” “Remember the Titans” and “Creed II.” 

“We used films that promote camaraderie amongst races and genders,” Little said. “Film is still the medium people use to talk about how they feel about something, like the quality of life people have and whether they question it. If so, how can we motivate them to get to a different place?”

He said CYK helped the Durham Bulls “create some revenue channels as well. With the pandemic, the money had slowed down.”

A Durham food truck, Goodness Grace Us, served the crowd, and people sat on blankets in the stadium field. 

“It was a great little program. It gave Candid a new, refreshed look,” Little said. “We’ve absolutely gotten in a place of profitability, or at least close to it. The key thing is it’s still going strong. We’re still talking about community and bringing together community in any way, shape or form.”

John Railey, raileyjb@nullgmail.com, is the writer-in-residence for Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (www.wssu.edu/csem).

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