Black expo kicks-off with focus on church, economic development
Jul 9, 2015
“It’s about black businesses and self-empowerment,” Hampton said. “To get out the message that ‘we are people who are prideful… and instill hope in people who are hopeless, who don’t see a way out of violence or off the streets.’”
Various speakers at the event seized on the venue, a large, predominantly-black church, to say now is the time to have a real and honest discussion about race relations in America.
“We have the attention of the nation on us,” Bishop John R. Bryant, a national leader in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, said. “This is the time to rally our people and bring realization to the nation that racism has existed in this land for far too long and not mentioning it isn’t helping.”
He pointed to the recent decision by South Carolina’s state government to remove a Confederate battle flag from their state house grounds as a way the shooting, and the national attention it brought, has brought about real change for the nation.
Indy’s Black Expo isn’t just a time to celebrate, the event’s guest speaker activist and author Kevin Powell said, but also a time to look critically at things like poverty and racism and create realistic, action-based solutions.
“We need an honest conversation about where we came from, how we got here and where we want to go,” Powell said.
Many people think of the civil rights movement as having ended with the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the abolishment of segregation in 1965, he said, but there is still work to be done to make everyone, not just the black community, equal – and the Black Expo is just the place to begin that work.
“[Some people] have a mindset that Black Expo is to get together, see some vendors, party and have a good time,” Powell said. “We need to remember that Black Expo came out of a movement and we need to continue that work.”
IBE’s week of events offers a focus on economic development, which is good, he said, but many people grow up without a basic understanding of financial literacy which makes any talk of larger development moot.
“We can’t talk about community and economic development without talking about our own [personal] economic development,” he said. “We have got to think about buying what we need and not what we want.”
IBE offers several business-minded events including: a day-long business conference July 13, a focus on contracting with construction and state colleges July 14, and an employment opportunity fair July 16. For more information about all of the Black Expo Summer Celebration’s events see the IBE website.
Indianapolis’s Black Expo Summer Celebration began at the heart of the black community – church.
“The church in the African American community has always been the epicenter of information, activity and encouragement. In my opinion there is no better place to start,” David Hampton, senior pastor at Light of the World Christian Church said at the kick-off event for IBE’s 45th year.
Thursday’s ecumenical service at the Light of the World Christian Church began 10 days of job fairs, business roundtables, celebrity workshops and musical events in Downtown Indianapolis.