This weekend we had the pleasure of taking part in the Black Women’s Expo 2016. There were a lot of great vendors, appearances, and experiences. If you missed it, you missed out.
For the 22nd year, the Black Women’s Expo came to Chicago bringing out good times for everybody. McCormick Place was the place to be. The theme of the festivities was She Matters, empowering, engaging, & entertaining. It all began on Friday with an amazing Teen Summit, seeking resolutions for our youth. There was an appearance by S. Epatha Merkerson. It was also the first opportunity to go to exhibitors’ booths & buy, try & learn. We walked through a nice bus set up by DuSable Museum which previewed a few of the exhibits. This historic institution is encouraging people to DuSomething and come out and look at one of the pre-eminent African American museums around. It is free to all on Sundays and only $8 for adult Chicago residents, $5 for seniors, and free to children under 6.
We also stopped by to chat with young genius Thessalonika Arzu Embry, who at just 16 years old is already after a PhD & has authored 5 books. She is much sought after and for good reason. She is a brilliant, beautiful, inspiring young lady, who we found to be very sweet. Go on over to http://www.thessalonikaarzu.com to learn more about her. From there we went over to taste some Coco5 in its different delicious flavors. It is all natural coconut water that tastes good and is even better for you. Go to coco5.com to find it. From here was a stop by the Dark & Lovely & Carol’s Daughter, who were handing out free samples for all the naturalistas. All of this near the sponsor Walgreens area.
Lusters was also holding court making sure everybody was looking good. Folks stopped for selfies before sliding over for info from University of Chicago Medicine. Black McDonalds Operator’s Association had the place jumping with the speakers blasting, including a nice section with ladies learning some steps to Beyoncé’s Formation. The fellas were getting right in the B-Groomed area, complete with cuts & clothes. State Farm had a beautiful area set up which I’m sure was the background to many photos. There was an art pavilion with beautiful black art & a literary cafe with some great books for purchase. ABC7 had their correspondents there to talk to the people & hand out some nifty bags. The iHeart Media area was set up with live broadcasts by personalities from WGCI, V103, & Inspiration 1390AM, next to the Mariano’s Kidz Korner set up with fun activities like a jumping jack.
We of course had to stop by the Chicago Defender to pick up a paper & get some knowledge from one of the city’s best publications. We also stopped by Chicago’s oldest weekly newspaper, the Chicago Crusader as well. Other great areas were setup by T-Mobile, Illinois Lottery, the University of Illinois Tobacco Treatment Center, helping people to quit smoking, Premier Designs jewelry, Renway Lash, Fragrances of Jannah, Straight From The Go, with their great tshirts & equally great mission to uplift the city, Dem Edges Tinted Control RockShop, Garlic Expressions, Embellish perfume, Blair Christian presents #ThatGirl, & that’s just to name a few. Sheryl Lee Ralph herself was there in her booth selling diva wear all weekend & looking fabulous while doing it. There were over 200 exhibitors there. There were also concessions there for the many to enjoy some food while they enjoyed everything else.
Saturday was a very eventful day filled with great seminars, celebrity appearances & plenty of entertainment. Some of the featured seminars were the 100 Black Men of Chicago sponsored The Challenges of Today’s Black Youth, A Conversation with Dennis Kimbro, Blacks in Hollywood featuring Kym Whitley, Leon, & Sheryl Lee Ralph, Hustle Mommies sponsored Moms and Social Justice, Chicago Defender & WVON sponsored BWe Town Hall Meeting, Money Making Conversations with Rushion McDonald, Frankly Speaking with Frankie Robinson & Claudia Jordan, & How To Be A Female Boss and Live the Life You Want with Porsha Williams. On the main stage we were treated to Windy City Live, dance performances, poetry, comedy with Blair Christian, the Lusters Natural Hair Show, Collision of Love Fashion Show, produced by Black Martin, Blaq Ice, & a CSU Greek Stroll Off. There were incredible performances by Giordan Banks & Tony Terry, but Kelly Price shut it down. She came out, performed past hits, spoke words of wisdom, & ended with an acapella performance of As We Lay. She had everybody on their feet.
There were booths set up for Kym Whitley & Porsha Williams to talk & take photos with fans. There were all kinds of great music going on, as well as some familiar faces, including the Leading Ladies of Chicago who came out to support vendors. Sunday saw appearances by author Omar Tyree, featured baker Jordyn Gaines of Jordy Cakes, Loni Swain, & A Conversation with Toya Wright. The main stage saw performances on the main stage by Angela Martin, Jessica Love, Nick Colionne, JMJ, & Tiff Joy. Sunny Hostin spoke some words, there was poetry by Marco The Poet, Premier One Dance Performance, The Evolution of a Black Woman Fashion Show, and a Youth Unity Choir performance. The main events were performances by Hezekiah Walker & Friends & Deitick Haddon & LXW, who brought church to the expo. All in all it was a phenomenal weekend.
The Black Women’s Expo will be going on the road this year, stopping in DC in September & Atlanta in October. Go to www.theblackwomensexpo.com for more information. Special thanks to Merry Green for putting it all together, the volunteers & everyone else who worked to make this weekend happen. We’d also like to salute the sponsors Walgreens, State Farm, United Airlines, ABC7, IHeart Media, University of Chicago Medicine, Luster Products, Black Mcdonald’s Operator’s Association, ComEd, Illinois Lottery, UIC, PNC Bank, Illinois Department of Public Health, Urban Partnership Bank, DePaul University, Farmers Insurance, T-Mobile, Country Financial, Chicago Defender, Chicago Crusader, The Private Bank, American Family Insurance, South Side Health Center, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, DuSable Museum, 100 Black Men, & American Heart Association. We look forward to next year’s expo.
Above are a few images from The Black Women’s Expo 2016.