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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

It’s do or die time for Expo and Classic

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I’m not quite sure what to say about this year’s Circle City Classic (CCC) festivities. One thing is for sure, though; it’s not what it used to be.

It’s so unlike what it used to be, yet at the same time lacks anything new and exciting that people are beginning to clearly, and rather publicly, express their disdain. In recent years, I’ve heard disappointing comments from sponsors and members of the community, but this year seemed to be amplified many more times. Disappointing comments were mostly all I heard. Those who expressed their opinions to me are not only disappointed, but they are also frustrated.

From my observations over the years, frustration often turns to anger and anger turns into action – oftentimes the actions aren’t favorable. From Indiana Black Expo (IBE) and Circle City Classic’s perspective, this cannot be a good thing.

From what I’m hearing on the streets, people are so frustrated that the end result can be detrimental to these two organizations. I’m talking about a major loss in revenue and community support.

Currently Expo and Classic are going through something that I’ve not witnessed any other organizations experience with such intensity. The spiral is continually going downward and it’s doing so at an alarming rate. It’s scary to watch because one can almost guess the outcome … and at this rate, it won’t have one of those happily ever after endings.

I genuinely want IBE and CCC to not only survive, but also thrive. These are two historic entities in this city and they deserve to remain viable. The fact that they are Black organizations makes my desire for them to succeed that much stronger. This city needs Expo and Classic, but African-Americans need them too. It makes me proud to see any Black institution do well, and despite what some may believe, it truly saddens me to see the direction Expo and Classic are headed.

Something major needs to be done and it needs to happen soon because time is not on Expo and Classic’s side. I can’t help but question the type of meetings Expo’s board has because nothing seems to improve and the issues certainly aren’t getting resolved. I know the board recently did some revamping and members were added and removed, but nothing within IBE and CCC seems revamped (other than the fact that they are now under the same roof).

One of the biggest mistakes that was made relative to Classic is getting rid of some very influential and savvy men. These men not only brought major money into the organization, but they also had solid relationships with key sponsors as well as trust and respect from the community. No longer having them as part of the team was a major faux pas, and the consequence of such a decision is reflected in the decline of Classic.

I enjoyed the Cabaret, even though I thought George Clinton was a no-show because I didn’t recognize him sans the dreads and crazy attire. I didn’t find out that the “normal” looking man in jeans, a hat and white button-up was actually him until Saturday!

The parade has become a family tradition, so I still enjoyed it despite the insistent rain. I do wish some of the parade participants were better prepared for the weather, as it broke my heart to see the adorable little kids and teens marching in the rain with no rain-gear. I’m sure many of them are fighting off colds this week. As always, I liked the game simply because I’m always reminded of my days at Jackson State University. There’s nothing greater than seeing two HBCUs square off, and of course the halftime show with the bands is always my favorite part of the day.

There were a few other events that took place Classic weekend, but weren’t affiliated with Classic. Both the gospel concert featuring Vickie Winans and the Tommy Davidson Penthouse Party featuring Lakeside were big hits with near sellout crowds. It would have been to the Classic’s benefit to embrace these events more and include them in the radio promotions.

Change within Expo and Classic needs to happen now. If not, sponsors and members of the community will eventually tire of the “same-old, same-old” attitude and their lack of participation will bring the organizations to a crumbling demise.

You can e-mail comments to Shannon Williams at ShannonW@IndyRecorder.com.

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