Celebrating summer at Black Expo 

The 39th annual Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration kicks off Thursday, July 9 and continues for the next 10 days. The event offers a variety of opportunities so all Indianapolis residents can take part in one of the greatest events in the city. From live music to health fairs, circus performances to a film festival, there is no excuse not to be part of Indy's biggest celebration of the summer. Here are some of NUVO's picks for the best IBE has to offer. For a full list of events and performances, go to www.indianablackexpo.com.

Black Business Conference

The Black Business Conference provides free, knowledgeable resources for those involved with big corporations and home-based businesses, and those still in between or at the beginning. All events are held at the Indiana Government Center South Conference Center.

Tuesday, July 14 holds a unique opportunity for professionals or those trying to get into the professional field with two networking sessions. The "Professional Networking and Business Card Exchange" will feature special guest Earvin "Magic" Johnson and last from 6-8:30 p.m. This session provides a forum for professionals and prospective professionals to build ties and expand networks. The "Summer Resource Fair and Workshop Series," which extends from 8:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m., allows attendees to speak with representatives from state agencies, universities and other private corporations and foster prospective relationships.

Resources for businesses just getting started are in plentiful supply at the "Legal Issues for Small and Emerging Businesses" session on July 15 from 9-11 a.m. Labor laws, intellectual properties and other small print legal issues with big impacts will be discussed.

There are seven public sessions in total, all of which are free. Session topics range from small business survival to working with public universities to legal contract decoding and urban development. In order to register for any of the workshops, visit www.indianablackexpo.com and view the full calendar. Each seminar provides registration online or by phone.

Teen Bling

Teen Bling is one of many events at this year's celebration targeted toward black youth. The event on Saturday, July 18 will take place at Conseco Fieldhouse and feature a variety of youth-friendly activities aimed at inspiring Indianapolis teens.

An important part of Teen Bling is the Holla Back Teen Forum at 3 p.m.; this panel, presented by Indiana University, will include a variety of teens and celebrities who will talk about "The Definition of Swag," and how teens can become an important part of their communities. They will present their ideas about discovering one's unique possibilities and carrying oneself with swag, "pride, confidence and style."

Members of the celebrity panel will then join forces with Amp Harris and Reggie Wayne for the "Saving Our Youth" celebrity basketball game at 6 p.m. The varied list of celebrities includes actors, professional athletes and performing artists. Tamika Scott (Xscape), Clifton Powell (Norbit), Lil' J (That's So Raven), Antwan Tanner (One Tree Hill), Trason (BET's Baldwin Hills) and Pooch (The Game) will all be a part of the event, as well as sports celebrities such as Bob Sanders, Robert Mathis and Andre Johnson. All of the artists who will be a part of the Teen Bling concert will also participate in the charity basketball game.

At the close of the Teen Bling event is the show featuring several of today's hottest rap and R&B artists. Diddy's dream team Day26 from season four of MTV's Making the Band will hit the stage. Following their self-titled debut album in early 2008, the group put out their sophomore album, Forever in a Day, this past April, which features the hit single "Imma Put It on Her." Young rapper Hurricane Chris, whose single "A Bay Bay" made it to No. 2 on the U.S. rap charts back in 2007, is busy promoting his new single "Halle Berry (She's Fine)" and his upcoming album (due to be released in August).

Memphis-born rapper and record producer Kia Shine will bring his skills to the stage; he's promoting his single "Checkin' My Fresh," off his upcoming album Respect Due. Performer Cupid, who gained fame when his song "Cupid Shuffle" went gold, will bring his shuffle to Conseco as well. Also featured in the show are performers Hot Stylz and Mr. Dalvin.

Tickets for the entire Teen Bling event are only $19.99 in advance or $24.99 the day of the event. There are also VIP tickets available for $29.99 in advance or $34.99 at the show. This is a great value for teens to experience a star-studded day at IBE's Summer Celebration.

Preceding Saturday's Teen Bling is the All White Kick-Off Party on Friday, July 17. This party starts at 8 p.m. at the Indiana Convention Center's Sagamore Ballroom. The bash will be hosted by actress Gabrielle Union and will feature Ginuwine, DJ Kid Capri and DJ Diva; tickets for this event are $25. Be sure to come dressed in white!

Get healthy

The African-American community is disproportionately affected by health-related issues than other minority groups in America. The health risks include prostate cancer, obesity and smoking-related diseases. Upping that likelihood is that fact that Indiana has the second highest rate of smoking, third highest rate of cancer deaths, 10th highest rate of obesity and 12th highest rate of heart disease. Indiana Black Expo wants to help.

July 16-19, IBE will be hosting INShape Indiana Black & Minority Health Fair, which will offer thousands of dollars worth of free medical screenings. The Rev. Charles Williams Prostate Cancer Mobile Unit will be part of the fair, encouraging African-Americans to get tested through PSA (prostate specific antigen) screenings and digital rectal exams. (Indiana Convention Center, Hall D)

Prostate exams are being pushed in the black community because black American men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than other American men; however, the stage of detection for black men is usually later, limiting treatment options. The mobile unit will also house testing for blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes, cholesterol, HIV and osteoporosis. The emphasis on prostrate cancer prevention is also the impetus behind the Unite 2 Fight Race Against Prostate Cancer on July 11 (8 a.m. at the American Legion Mall).

Commit 2 Quit, a program dedicated to breaking the smoking habit, will also be offered as a part of Black Expo. Smoking-related diseases are responsible for approximately 45,000 deaths in the African-American community each year. African-American men are 50 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than white men and more than 25 percent of black middle school students and 17 percent of black high school students are already smokers. The program is intended to assist current smokers in quitting, while preventing non-smokers from ever starting.

IBE will also be offering "What Works: Reducing Unplanned Pregnancy in Teens and Young Adults" for free, in partnership with the National Campaign to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy (July 15, 1 p.m., Indiana Convention Center, room 109; free).

Live music

The Black Expo Entertainment Hall features a series of live performances featuring a host of rap, R&B, jazz and gospel performances. At the top of the "do not miss" list is Grammy-nominated R&B singer Eric Benét on Saturday, July 18 at 3:30 p.m. Benét is currently on tour supporting his Love & Life album, his latest. The album was recently nominated for a Grammy in both Best R&B Vocal and Best R&B Album categories by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and the single "You're the Only One" has already landed in the Top 20 on the Billboard R&B charts. Benét himself has bragged that Love & Life might be responsible for the next big baby boom, and critics and fans both seem to agree.

For the more dedicated fans (or those who dream of his hands on their butts), the singer has put an interesting offer up on his Web site: Every fan who buys a pair of "Chocolate Legs" boyshorts underwear from his Web site, www.ericbenet.net, can have him sign them at the concert. Recently, the "Chocolate Legs" single became the center of controversy when Benét released his R-rated version of the video for the song. Both the song and video do, however, add some backup to Benét's claim about the next baby boom, and it is ultimately true to his style: sexy and smooth, with Benét's signature clean, silken vocals crooning about dirty things. His Expo performance is no doubt going to be less of a concert and more of a mass seduction -- and not a mass seduction one should miss.

Doug E. Fresh will also be appearing at the Entertainment Hall July 18. With over 20 years' career experience in music, Fresh has been known as the earliest beat boxer in hip-hop history, as well as a great rapper and producer. His single "The Show" and "La Di Da Di" early in 1985, and his album, The World's Greatest Entertainer, have won him great popularity worldwide.

Other artists include SWV, Alex Bugnon, Whoodini and original members of Sugarhill Gang (see story on page XX). Seating in the Entertainment Hall is limited to the first 4,000, some standing room will be available.

Film festival

Indiana Black Expo is partnering with the Indianapolis International Film Festival to sponsor screenings on July 11, 12 and 16. Saturday, free screenings of Pray the Devil Back to Hell and War Child will begin at 4 p.m. at the Madame Walker Theatre Center.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell conveys the potential for grass-roots activism to improve entire nations. War Child tells the story of 7-year-old child soldier Emmanuel Jal.

Sunday will feature free screenings of Trouble the Water and shorts One Nothing and The Workout at the Indianapolis Museum of Art's Tobias Theatre from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Trouble the Water, the 2008 Sundance Film Festival's Best Documentary, is a personal account of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. The short film One Nothing champions the power of imagination through the story of a young man who is confronted while playing basketball in his neighborhood. The Workout centers on a father's struggle to develop a relationship with his son.

At 7:30 p.m. on July 16, a $10 screening at the Tobias Theatre will show both Prince of Broadway and short film Sinnerman. Prince of Broadway is the story of two New York men who live a difficult life that is eased when they receive a surprise package. Sinnerman examines an academically talented teenager's struggle to remove himself from a dangerous situation. Both these films include adult content and language.


This year's IBE will commence with the Ecumenical Service Thursday, July 9 at the Light of the World Christian Church, 4750 N. Michigan Road. The event is free and open to the public, and shuttle service from the church to an additional parking area at the International School will be provided. The evening begins at 7 p.m. and is hosted by Pastor Bishop T. Garrott Benjamin Jr. Guest speaker Bishop Henry Williamson will help officially kick off IBE's Summer Celebration.

Worship services continue throughout the celebration. Sunday, July 19, special guest preacher Pastor Jeffery Johnson, senior pastor of Eastern Star Church, and musical guests Martha Munizzi and Rodney Bryant with Yet Unseen will perform at IBE's Praise and Worship Service at the Indiana Convention Center. Doors are open 9-11 a.m. and the service starts at 10 a.m. Admittance is free before 11 a.m.; entrance to the Summer Celebration is $10 after 11 a.m.

Following IBE's Praise and Worship Service is the Gospel Explosion "Souled Out," headlined by Bishop Hezekiah Walker. It includes performances by JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise, Canton Jones, Brown Boys and Ernest Pugh. The show will begin at 2:45 p.m. (seating begins at 1:45 p.m.) in Hall A of the Indiana Convention Center. General admission to the Indiana Convention Center includes admittance to the event ($8 in advance, $10 at the door).

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