Harlem Community Honors Korean Soul Food Chain Owner, Condemns Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

Harlem Community Honors Korean Soul Food Chain Owner, Condemns Anti-Asian Hate Crimes
Bryan Ke
By Bryan Ke
April 21, 2021
Community leaders and local clergy members from Harlem in New York City organized a gathering to celebrate a Korean American restaurant owner’s nearly 40 years of service to her neighborhood.  
Members of the community rallied against anti-Asian violence and honored Betty Park, the owner of the soul food chain Manna’s, at an event on April 14 on Malcolm X Boulevard, according to Patch.
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“We are here today, collectively, to address the senseless hate crimes against Asians in the city,” Evangelist Robert Rice of the Bethel Gospel Assembly Evangelist said at the gathering. “We don’t tolerate no hate crimes from nobody, whether you’re black, white, Chinese … it’s unacceptable.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and former finance executive Ray McGuire, who are both competing in the New York City mayoral race, also attended the event.
Park, a Korean immigrant, first opened a fish market with her family in Harlem in 1983. Opening a business there was a challenge because the neighborhood was not welcoming of the Korean influx at the time. An altercation at another Korean shop evolved into a boycott of Korean-owned stores in the neighborhood, according to Edible Manhattan’s 2010 profile on Park.
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In 1985, the Korean American chef opened the first Manna’s. She made sure to hire people from her community.
“Most Korean businesses were almost totally un-involved with the community,” the soul food chain’s website reads. “[Park] made it a priority to become invloved with the community by hiring employees from the neighborhood. She also became active in community affairs groups, churches, and the Harlem Police Athletic League.”
“Betty Park without Harlem is nothing,” Park said at the event.
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