Indiana Black Expo’s 52nd annual Summer Celebration is almost here.
The 10-day celebration of Black history, culture and business in Indianapolis will be jam-packed with hundreds of local business vendors, live music, food, activations and more, Edward Rogers Jr., director of events for Indiana Black Expo, told the Recorder.
“This is a very historical event for our city, so we look forward to the crowds of people,” Rogers said. “We look forward to all the activations that showcase Black culture, Black business, (and) Black entrepreneurship.”
Kicking off the celebrations on Thursday, July 6 is the Ecumenical Service at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, located at 1003 W. 16th St, starting at 7 p.m. Rogers said the program is free to attend and includes guest speaker Bishop-Elect Marvin Winans, Sr., with host pastor Rev. Dr. Carl Z. Liggins, Minister of Music Sherri Garrison, the Citywide Choir and Lamar Campbell.
As part of its Summer Nights Film Series, Newfields will partner with IBE on July 7 for an audience-choice movie screening of “Hidden Figures” or “Black Panther.” Doors open at 7 p.m., with the film beginning at Dusk at Newfields’ outdoor amphitheater. Tickets are $9 for members, $12 for nonmembers and free for children under 5. More information can be found at discovernewfields.org/calendar/audience-vote.
The following evening, on July 8, IBE will host its Film Festival — which Rogers said celebrates African American cinema —at The Toby at Newfields. The festival will showcase diverse films, highlighting the history and contributions of Black filmmakers, in addition to a panel discussion of producers and directors of the documentary series “Hidden Colors.” The film festival begins at 7 p.m. and is free to attend.
The following week plays host to over a dozen events at the Indiana Convention Center, starting with IBE’s annual Business Conference presented by Delta Faucet Opens, July 10-11. Rogers said the conference includes seven workshops on a range of topics to help entrepreneurs in the community — whether they are a Fortune 500 corporation or a small business — develop connections, share opportunities and build a network. Workshops are free; however, seating is on a first-come-first-serve basis.
“We want to try to give minorities and other businesses the opportunities to build shared spaces with organizations and companies and those that are part of our city,” Rogers said.
Festivities pick up again Thursday, July 13 with the 16th annual Education Conference in the Sagamore Ballroom from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Presented by Indiana University, the conference aims to provide opportunities for teachers and administrators to learn about equitable educational outcomes for students of color. Keynote speakers are Linsey Davis and Glenn Eric Singleton. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at indianablackexpo.com/2023-education-conference.
That evening marks the beginning of IBE’s Indiana Black & Minority Health Fair, starting with Seniors Night in Halls J and K from 4-8 p.m. The health fair is sponsored by Indiana State Department of Health and Indiana Family & Social Services Administration and is free to attend, Rogers said.
“Friday is one of our big days, it kind of kicks off all the weekend fun and activations,” Rogers said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun; a lot of opportunities for connections but also to receive some great information.”
Starting with the Consumer Exhibit Halls, which open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Halls I, H and G, the exhibits will feature more than 250 local and national corporate, government, education, nonprofit and community vendors.
The “Inspo Teachers Exhibit: Where Learning & Imagination is Made Possible” takes place in Hall I, Booth 435 and aims to highlight the inspirational work of Indiana’s Black educators and provide a platform for educators to engage and connect with one another. The exhibit is free to attend.
From noon to 1 p.m., the Cultural Arts Pavilion and The Arts Speaks Cafe — where local artists and authors from organizations around the city can share their work while attendees enjoy a cup of coffee, listen to live music and spoken word, or sign up for yoga — will be open in Rooms 136-137.
The 37th annual Indiana Black & Minority Health Fair will be open from 1-7 p.m. throughout the weekend in Halls J and K, providing more than $2,500 worth of free healthcare screenings, educational tools and information, Rogers said.
“There’s no excuse for someone to say ‘Well, I haven’t had my blood pressure checked,’” Rogers said. “During those three days, you have the resources and ability to just walk right in and get those things done, and you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the year.”
Rounding out the evening of July 14 is the Summer Celebration Outdoor Concert with headliners Howard Hewett, El DeBarge, Stephanie Mills and O’Jays. The concert will be at the American Legion Mall from 6-11:30 p.m. and is free to attend; however, Rogers said there are $75 VIP tickets available.
The exhibition halls open again July 15 and 16 beginning at 9 a.m. and will include several more arts-based programs and entertainment — such as an acting studio, dance competition, a fashion show and IBE’s Midwest Invitational Boxing Showcase, which Rogers said takes place July 15 from noon to 3 p.m. on the Entertainment Stage in Hall I.
The last event of July 15 is the All White Affair Concert at Gainbridge Fieldhouse from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. The concert includes DJ Kid Capri, Juvenile and 112 and tickets range from $50-$150 at Ticketmaster.com.
The morning of July 16 will start with a worship service from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the Entertainment Stage in Hall F led by Pastor Timothy Harris of Turning Point Family Worship Center. Following the service, also in Hall F, is the Gospel Explosion, featuring Kurt Carr, from 4-7 p.m. Both are free to attend.
“One of the things that keeps me motivated is being able to create an event that basically showcases African American culture, that showcases our businesses,” Rogers said. “Having an event where not only we can showcase but empower African Americans in the community to keep striving for more or for those who are already at that level being willing to now spread the seeds to others to help them grow.”
Fifty-two years is a long time to be doing anything, and Rogers said it is an honor to work with an organization such as the Indiana Black Expo to continue hosting events that bring the community together, highlight small Black business owners and creatives, and help everyone grow.
“When you have so many people Downtown focused on the same mission and have the same support, it feels like we are all family for those 10 days,” he said. “We hope that businesses that participate as vendors grow from this … We hope that attendees leave feeling well-connected and having the resources they need to continue on with their life or businesses.”
Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.