CLEVELAND — More than a year after the black squares went viral on Instagram, the company is giving Black-owned businesses a chance to identify themselves.
The squares first popped up in the wake of the national protests after the death of George Floyd in May of 2020. In written posts to go along with the square, many people said they were posting in solidarity with the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Now, Instagram has created a badge for Black-owned companies to use on the site — companies like Cafe Phix in Midtown.
News 5 first met Jackie Larkins in June of 2020. Her business was suffering during the pandemic. She points to a sustained following after the stories ran as why her company is still making cups of coffee and sandwiches to go.
"We have a pretty good footprint," Larkins said of her social media presence. "You name it and I've tried to sign up for it."
For her, having multiple social media pages was an easy decision.
"It's like word of mouth and you know what they say about word of mouth — that's how a business is successful," Larkins said.
The Cafe Phix owner said the new identifier from Instagram couldn't come soon enough, "because there is a community for them. There is a community on social media. All you have to do is look for it."
Despite the attention the social media storm brought last year, some people said it was too little too late.
"When you're in the heat of a crisis, it's always a little too late," said Torrian Denise, the founder and owner of Dornee Natural Skincare.
Denise said the social media movement spurred conversation and the new badge is an opportunity to keep talking about issues and supporting local shops.
"I think it is a great move. I think it is intentional," she said. "It's very important. It's necessary. It's long overdue. And I'm just looking forward to it."
Currently, there are more than 1 million accounts on Instagram that say they are Black-owned businesses.
Both Denise and Larkins said they will go on the site and get the badge.