The 24th Annual Black Women’s Expo (BWe) Chicago kicked off Friday at McCormick Place. A year shy of celebrating its silver anniversary, BWe founder Merry Green says it seems like just yesterday when she produced the very first event in Chicago. The goal then and continues to be one of education, entertainment, celebration and empowerment of the Black woman. With the Women’s March on Washington and similar expressions across the country, women are letting their voices be heard now more than ever. And BWe has provided a platform for such expression and dialogue.
Although designed for the entire family, BWe offers serious conversations for women about #MeToo, a town hall meeting on “Enough is Enough,” teen summit, as well as panels on sexual harassment, pay equality, and other topics affecting the lives of women and families across the globe. Over the past 24 years, thousands have attended the BWe in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Orlando, Atlanta, Biloxi (MS) and Washington, DC. The event features celebrities, entertainment, community leaders, experts and entrepreneurs.
Talent lineup includes balladeer Johnny Gill, reality TV star and rapper Remy Ma, former “Basketball Wives” star and current host of “Bonnet Chronicles” on TIDAL Tami Roman, actress Kimberly Elise (Neal), gospel elite Latice Crawford and more.
There are other expos across the country but none bring excitement, entertainment and empowerment like the original Black Women’s Expo (BWe), which kicks off its 24 th year with a three-city tour in Chicago April 6-8 at McCormick Place – North Building, 2301 S. King Dr. Expo hours are: Friday, April 6, and Saturday, April 7, 10:00am-7:00pm and Sunday, April 8, 11:00am-6:00pm.
Festivities started on Thursday, April 5, with the presentation of the BWe Phenomenal Woman Awards to Janice Jackson, CEO, Chicago Public Schools; Kelly Fair, founder, Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program; and Dr. Suzet McKinney, CEO/executive director, Illinois Medical District, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, a co-presentation with the Chicago Defender Women of Excellence Awards. Keynote speaker: Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Juliana Stratton.
Highlights of the three-day Chicago expo include “The Natural Way: A Candid Conversation with Kimberly Elise” and performance by award-winning balladeer Johnny Gill on Saturday. “BWe Presents…Bonnet Chronicles Live featuring Tami Roman” and live session with rapper Remy Ma roundout national entertainment on Sunday.
Powerful programming on Friday started with the “BWe Teen Summit Series” co-presented by Walgreens Expression Challenge, iHeart Media Chicago and Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program.
On Saturday, the BWe “Town Hall #EnoughIsEnough” will cover the topic fighting inequality and sexual harassment in the workplace. Empowerment and education continue all weekend long with such seminars as: Get the Facts on 203K Homeownership & Community Legacy Building; A Conversation with Black Female Veterans; #BWe Beauty, Brands, and Bloggers: How to Thrive in Business and Build a Loyal Fan Base; #TheSpiceDiet featuring Chef Judson Todd Allen; Black Girl Tech: App Development & Coding for the African American Woman presented by Black Women in Media; Explorgasm: Live Your Best Sex Life by The Six Brown Chicks; PitchFest – Breaking Through the Film and Entertainment Business Red
Tape presented by the Orlando Urban Film Festival; and much more.
2018 The Black Women’s Expo Talent & Seminars / Add One Created as a platform for Black women to engage around key political, economic and social issues; educate themselves, empower each other, and celebrate their collective strength, BWe
continues to offer seminars, workshops, and entertainment for today’s Black woman. Themed #SheMatters, the nation’s longest running exposition of its kind for Black women, produced by Black women, BWe is just as important today as it was when it began.
Although the focus is on women, BWe is for men, teens and children, too. The BWe Pavilions include: Natural Hair Pavilion – Where the hottest corporate and small business natural hair care companies showcase their products and participate in the Natural Hair Show on the BWe Main Stage. Literary Café – Check out popular authors, engage in book readings and special presentations. Health & Wellness Pavilion – Health screenings and nutritional information will be available from industry experts. Kidz Korner – Fun activities all weekend long for children to enjoy such as face painting, sketch artists, inflatables, Double Dutch, kiddie manicures, dance corner, arts & crafts, exercise and more. Teen Summit – Forums address issues faced by today’s African American youth. The Men’s Den– Exclusive space where male guests enjoy being pampered and groomed featuring the best in men’s hair and skincare products. Club Expo – Adult beverage sampling and entertainment. New tour title sponsor Toyota joins long-time corporate sponsors Walgreens, United Airlines, Luster Products, BMO Harris Bank, University of Chicago Medicine, ComEd, PNC Bank, T-Mobile, ADT, and Xfinity. Media partners include iHeart Media (V103, Inspiration1390AM and 107.5WGCI), ABC7, Chicago Defender, Chicago Crusader, Real Times Media/Who’s Who, and WVON1690AM.
Tickets are $20 for adults and are available for half-price until April 5 at 280 participating Walgreens. For exhibitor and sponsorship information, call 312-454- 6100. Visit http://theblackwomensexpo.com/ for event details.