McKinzie: Join us to celebrate black culture in Indiana

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I grew up in Terre Haute. I would sometimes visit relatives in Indianapolis during Black Expo. As a little girl, I vividly remember attending the outdoor concert with my family. And later, as a teenager, I would ride with friends to hang out on 38th Street during Black Expo. Both unique experiences involved spaces where black people came to play, our culture and all aspects of our blackness – whether among tens of thousands in a park in front of a big stage with national artists or hoods from our les cars sway at the base and music sounds. My childhood visits to the Black Expo were my first experiences of the richness of black culture that the BIE brought to Indianapolis. I would later understand the importance of showcasing black excellence and culture in Indiana.

Related: Summer Celebration returns with concert, talks and more

But when I got involved with the IBE (as a lawyer at 24, a board member at 26, and president at 32), I soon discovered that the Summer Celebration or Black Expo that I experienced when I was little was just a small segment of the full calendar of festivities. For 10 days, Summer Celebration brings together stakeholders to address historic racial disparities in income, education and health. And as we use this venue to meet critical community needs, we are also elevating our blackness and celebrating our heritage, culture, and accomplishments by showcasing black excellence.

The summer celebration begins and ends in praise and worship with our Ecumenical Service on July 7 at Grace Apostolic Church and Gospel Explosion on July 17 at the Indiana Convention Center.

To help remove barriers that prevent Black-owned businesses from accessing the resources, financing, training and technical assistance needed to grow and thrive, IBE is offering a free business conference focused on growth of our businesses. The goal is to advance business growth in our communities to close the racial wealth gap.

For 15 years, our education conference has provided professional development for educators on how to improve outcomes for students of color. The aim is to ensure effective, safe and inclusive learning environments, to advance policies and practices that properly protect our children and to ensure that our children develop valuable skills and knowledge to help them live a quality life.

This year, more than 100 middle and high school students will participate in our Young Entrepreneurs series. Over 250 middle and high school students will attend our Youth Leadership Summit with a full weekend focused on leadership development and careers. We aim to create a larger pool of young entrepreneurs, strengthen our young people’s sense of identity, help them reach their full potential and instill in them the desire to give back to their communities.

Our showroom in the Indiana Convention Center includes a new Black Wall Street area teeming with Black-owned businesses, a Cultural Arts Pavilion with an art gallery of talented Black artists, and a collaboration of our arts institutions, a health fair that offers more than $2,500 in free screenings, and our on-site Performing Arts Academy where young people can participate in music production, dance, perform, and enjoy a silent disco party . Our full calendar is available on line.

We invite the community to come check out the full Summer Celebration schedule. We hope you’ll join us at the outdoor concert as we celebrate our culture, enjoy legendary music and a great summer vibe. But we hope you can also join us for our other events and programs designed to uplift our community socially and economically.

Tanya McKinzie is President and CEO of Indiana Black Expo.

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