This article was originally published on June 25, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some Minnesotans used Derek Chauvin’s sentencing day as an opportunity to learn and grow with each other. In Apple Valley, a group of black and minority business owners made sure they’d be together when they heard the Judge Peter Cahill’s decision.

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The Growth Conference hosted their first annual event at Rosemount Minnesota National Guard Armory on Friday night. The date of this conference was intentionally scheduled on the day of the sentencing of ex-officer Derek Chauvin after he was found guilty of killing George Floyd back in April.

The emcee of the conference, Tayo Daniel, spoke to the audience entrepreneurs.

“We’re seeing a lot of killings going on in the community and I think the more economically sufficient we are, the lower that will happen, right?” he said.

An activist himself, Daniel felt it would be important to spend the sentencing day mentoring aspiring minority entrepreneurs.

“This is the day of the sentencing, and we’re all here as black, minority business owners,” said Daniel. “We’re sitting here understanding that it’s more than just the money you earn. When you own your own business, you’re actually enriching people’s lives and changing people’s lives.”

This group reacted to the sentencing in real time, together.

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Daniel asked the conference audience, “22 1/2 years. What do you guys think? Is that enough?”

Those who spoke up in the audience all said no.

“It’s very emotional. It’s a start, and I was very happy that there’s a sentencing because there’s a lot of people who didn’t get this opportunity,” said Yusra Mohamud, who was a speaker at the conference, teaching financial literacy.

Many there felt being at a black-owned business conference on this day was their way of healing from the trauma.

“Being here shows me that the best way to move forward is to educate yourself,” said Suad Mohamed, who is starting her own business. “This is what we’re about. At the end of the day we have a lot of greatness in our community, and that’s what we really need to focus on highlighting.”

The Growth Conference plans to be an annual event. This inaugural year, they had 160 reservations, with hopes of having double that amount next year.

To learn more about the conference and the organizers behind it, click here.

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Marielle Mohs