As February is Black History Month, we wanted to share the events going on around the county celebrating and honoring black history in JoCo.

The Johnston County Heritage Commission's Black History Committee is honoring African American health care professionals on the 24th at 6:30pm at the Reginald Ennis Pavilion in Smithfield. Among those honored will be Mrs. Lucille Raiford Jones of New York, one of the first black nurses at Johnston Memorial Hospital when it opened in 1951. 

The Benson Museum of Local History’s 11th Annual Black History Month Celebration honoring the life and community service of Mr. Cicero Williams (pictured below) will be held on February 27, 2022 at 2pm at The Barn at Broadslab. The event is free and open to the public. Many residents know Mr. Williams from his lengthy career as a Benson firefighter beginning in 1975 and ending in 2004. He was the town’s first African-American firefighter. In addition to his days in the BFD, Mr. Williams worked at Medlin & Dorman hardware and was a dedicated family man. He and his wife Cora raised eight children.

Cicero Williams and fellow firefighters stand in uniform looking at the camera

Black-owned Tourism Businesses in JoCo

In addition, the Johnston County Visitors Bureau works with many black-owned businesses around the county who share a true entrepreneurial spirit and passion for serving both residents and visitors. We have highlighted some of these partners, many who are women-owned businesses as well, and have included a list of others at the bottom of this blog. Whether you’re looking for cupcakes, clothing, event planning, or eateries, we know they’d appreciate your business this month and throughout the year! 

Fired Up Pizza & BBQ Food Truck 

This food truck, owned by Tyrone Fields, is unique in the fact that they are one of very few food trucks featuring a professional Il Fornino wood burning pizza oven.  All of their pizzas are cooked with North Carolina hardwood right before your eyes on their open air deck and their BBQ is made using a specially formulated spice rub and sauces then slow smoked for hours.

Fresh made pizzas cooking in a wood-burning oven

The Serving Spoon 

The Serving Spoon is a full-service catering company with an excellent reputation in Johnston County and beyond. With over 25 years of experience, owner Joyce Jenkins prides herself on preparing the very best Southern Cuisine made from scratch. Joyce recently opened her own catering venue in Downtown Pine Level. The beautifully renovated historic building will serve as a private event space and is also offering safe catering solutions like curbside and delivery service. What’s more, Joyce organizes and teaches a cooking camp for young children, instilling in boys and girls an early confidence in the kitchen and healthy eating habits.


Serving Spoon Owner sits in her restuarant and event center with a chef's coat on


Patty Cake’s Littlest Cupcake Shop

Just a short walk off Main Street, this cute little shop offers heavenly cupcakes, easy to eat and walk as you explore Downtown Clayton. Made fresh daily by owner and baker Denetra Jackson. With unique flavor combinations, it’ll be hard to choose just one… so maybe take a few for later as well.  


A woman poses in front of her cupcake shop holding out a chocolate cupcake


Alabaster Box Essential Oils

Opened just last year by Sivonna Jones, Alabaster specializes In essential oils and incenses for the home and office. They also offer a signature line of candles and reed diffusers, bath bombs, bath salts, and shower fizzez. 


Alabaster Oils Owner Stands in Front of Product Shelves


Ms. B’s Bake Shop 

From a home baker to owning a storefront in the McGee’s Xrds community, on I-40, Exit 319, Benisha Hunter is making her dreams come true. Ms. B's Bake Shop provides cupcakes, custom cakes for all occasions, sweet treats and pastries. The tastes and smells are amazing and you will not be disappointed!

Lady with a mask poses with a tray of red velvet cupcakes

Gateway Conference and Event Center

Terri Watson owns this event center, but the operation is a family business. She opened the center in Clayton and hosts all sorts of events from birthday parties to meetings; but elegant wedding receptions are her specialty. 


A family poses in front of a cream background


Other businesses include: Chefella’s (pictured below), D’s Seafood Market, Buttermilk Boutique, Bourbon N’ Sweets, Eden’s Vegetarian, Niada Photography, Classy C’s, Old Fashioned Ice Cream (pictured at the top), Alicious Boutique & Apparel, JoCo Hot Dog Palace Food Truck, and Caribbean Delight.

*Please note that these are the uniquely visitor-facing businesses the JCVB knows about and has listed on our destination website; this is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of every black-owned businesses in JoCo, of which there are many. If you know of a tourism-related minority-owned business that has not been included, please let us know. 


Chefella's Owner Sits in Front of Her Event Planning Business