Submitted by the Texas Black Expo
Nowadays when Texas Black Expo’s (TBE) “Summer Celebration” gets close, there is a buzz around Houston and across Texas about the upcoming event. People can be heard discussing the star-studded concert, asking about dates to the opening ceremony, tweeting and posting about the non-profit’s now legendary networking happy hour, and purchasing tickets to the “Corporate Awards Luncheon,” that has become a “must attend” event.
Since the first TBE “Summer Celebration” in May of 2004, the non-profit has created an impressive path of empowering the local and state business community, educating entrepreneurs and youth, providing health & wellness information to the masses, all while entertaining people from Houston, across Texas, and neighboring states.
Founder and president, Jerome D. Love, says when he started TBE, he never imagined it would become what it is today. “When I began TBE, I had a clothing business. At the time, I needed a place to expose my line to the public. Once I began speaking with other small business owners, I saw the need for a Black expo in Houston. So, I really began this expo out of a need to grow my personal business and in turn help other business owners,” says Love.
Love’s initial vision has turned TBE into the largest minority-owned expo in Texas. Over the years, the Expo has grown into what it is today; a four-day event peppered with business and entertainment. There is now an opening ceremony, a networking event, workshops, various health & wellness and entertainment panels. The “Corporate Awards Luncheon” was created seven years ago. Among past keynote speakers are: former HUD Secretary, Julian Castro, Pastor Kribyjohn Caldwell of Windsor Village Church, and Tracye McDaniel, president and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corporation.
“I was 26-years old when I started TBE. Back then I didn’t truly understand and appreciate the need for community involvement and creating a network. Thankfully, I was open to suggestions and growth. I now see how invaluable it is to partner with local Fortune 500 companies, small business, and community service organizations. This has allowed us to broaden our reach beyond the Houston community. We can also now give people what they want and say they need,” says Love.
The “Summer Celebration” is not all business. Influential entertainers, comedians, and sports heroes have joined in the festivities in the past. From the beginning, there has been a concert showcasing some of the best talent in gospel, R&B, hip-hop, jazz, and comedy. The very first concert featured Will Downing and the incomparable Shirley Caesar. Since then, concert goers have enjoyed Mc Lyte, India Arie, George Clinton & Parliament Funkedelic, Dougie Fresh, Mint Condition, and Chubb Rock, just to name a few.
Comedians like J. Anthony Brown, A,J. Jamal, Tommy Davidson, and Billy Sorrells have done stand-up during the non-profit’s yearly event.
Celebrities like Tom Joyner, Susan Taylor, Nick Cannon, Letoya Luckett, and Carl Anthony Payne have all hosted or spoken at various events during past festivities.
This year, attendees can expect the usual live entertainment with more programs focused on meeting the needs of its growing audience.
“With so many years under our belt, we now have people who come every year for our signature events like “Diva Dialogue,” but we also recognize the need to empower and engage our next generation,” says Love.
The college workshop and “Battle of the Deal Music Showcase,” which provides a platform for up-and-coming artists in the Houston area, were added this year to cater to TBE’s younger audience. Both events are likely to draw parents and music lovers from all age groups.
And of course, there will be the opening ceremony, networking happy hour, corporate luncheon, and women’s empowerment panel – “Diva Dialogue” with celebrity guest Golden Brooks of “Girlfriends.” As always, patrons can anticipate some great deals from vendors selling art, books, jewelry, and more.
As TBE2017 gears up for its 14th season, Love reflects on his biggest lessons learned. “The realization that we can’t do this alone has helped us to grow leaps and bounds. Community and economic synergy is key to our success. Now we focus on the needs of the community at large and ask service organizations and local businesses for input,” he says. “Our core mission is to foster business growth and development, educate and expose youth to the world of entrepreneurship, and provide events designed to inform, economically empower, and establish the Houston community and beyond. I think we do an excellent job,” says Love.
For more information on this year’s TBE Summer Celebration, please visit www.texasblackexpo.com.