Summer celebration job fair sells out of employer booth space sooner than ever before
Jul 9, 2015
Indy's Black Expo has sold out of space for employer booths at the Summer Celebration's job fair earlier this week, sooner than every before, IBE President Tanya Bell said.
The 27th Annual Employment Opportunity Fair, sponsored by WTHR-TV13, will be held on Thursday, July 16, in the 500 Ballroom of the Indiana Convention Center. More than 90 booths are being admitted into the employment fair. Although the maximum number of employers didn’t start selling out until recent years, this is the earliest that the event has filled.
“We’ve never been sold out a week in advance,” said Bell. “We have people on the waiting list right now, and we’re hoping to expand the fair to include as many employers as possible.”
Attendees will have the opportunity to speak directly with managers, and employment-seekers can be interviewed on the spot for job opportunities. In 2014, nearly 3,000 individuals attended the event, according to IBE annual reports. With the packed house, Bell anticipates an even larger turnout this year.
“The job piece is key for anyone that’s going to attend,” said Bell. “With the large numbers of people we have looking for jobs right now, this is going to be important for the black community.”
The U.S. Labor Bureau reported current unemployment rates for African Americans at 11 percent nationally, and for black Hoosiers, the numbers for those without jobs is up to 13.1 percent. In a city with over 300,00 African Americans, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, who made an appearance on Thursday’s event at Light of the World Christian Church, is a contender for the opportunity that helps members of the community find jobs and career paths.
“[The Summer Celebration] is a coming together of a lot of components, but it’s really about economic empowerment,” said Ballard. “I think it sends message to everyone else that Indianapolis’ Black Expos is strong.”
The Employment Opportunity Fair will offer workshops to benefit jobseekers focusing on social media, interviewing skills, networking and self-branding from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. There is no cost for those looking for jobs, although online pre-registration for the event is recommended.“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.”