Indiana Black Expo celebrates its 35th anniversary

The 35th Annual Indiana Black Expo will kick off its Summer Celebration on Thursday, July 7, and continue through Sunday, July 17. This year's Expo will focus on building a sense of health awareness, economic empowerment and cultural celebration throughout the Indianapolis community. Crowd at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indiana Blac Expo, 1971.

IBE continues to be one of the premier cultural events in Indianapolis and promises to showcase a wealth of talent at this year's Summer Celebration. There are numerous seminars on economic development, wealth building, entrepreneurship and networking that will take place throughout the 10-day celebration. Many of these events require prior registration and some are by invitation only. Please consult IBE online at for a complete and comprehensive listing of activities, seminars and registration fees.

Interview with Alpha Garrett

One of the hallmarks of Indiana Black Expo is the consumer exhibition in and around the Indiana Convention Center and RCA Dome. Over 700 consumer exhibits are expected at this year's celebration and will feature memorabilia as well as a plethora of informational guides, literature, music and art. A multitude of ethnic food booths will have items available for purchase at the RCA Dome. The general admission price is $8 in advance and $10 at the Convention Center ticket window.

The Indiana Black Expo is celebrating its 35th anniversary as one of the premier cultural events in the state. Yet, some people still don't understand the depth and breadth of Black Expo. IBE Director of Communications Alpha Garrett sheds some light on some frequently asked questions.

IBE Director of Communications Alpha Garrett

Q: What exactly is Indiana Black Expo?

A: Indiana Black expo is a year-round non-profit 501c (3) organization that offers youth and family programs, which range from scholarship programs like our Youth Video Institute to different special events like our Black History Month program, back-to-school rallies and Feed the Hungry programs during the holiday season.

Q: Since the passing of IBE's late President Rev. Charles Williams, the organization has been in transition with the naming of new President Joyce Rogers. How has that transition been?

A: It's been a very good transition. Joyce Rogers, who's our current president, was our COO since 2000 before she took the presidency and worked closely with Williams after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer ... It was just a natural progression for her to come in and take on that lead role.

Q: Is the Indiana Black Expo the largest of its kind?

A: It is. There are several other Black Expos in cities like St. Louis and Houston and New York. However, with IBE being a non-profit organization, I think that distinguishes us. We are 35 years old and we have an impact for

the city of about $35 million with our Summer Celebration event. I think the reason we've been able to do that is that the community has a concerted effort in what they give back to Indiana Black Expo. They feel tied to it. I think that's why we've been able to survive for 35 years.

Q: What exactly about this year's Summer Celebration is different from those in years past?

A: It's a special year being our 35-year anniversary. I think with all of our new features maybe we'll bring in a new constituency of consumers that maybe haven't come to Summer Celebration in years past. We've worked really hard in the past year to answer the question, "If I've come to Summer Celebration since 1971, why should I come in 2005?" I think our new features answer that question. We have a lot of great celebrities coming in to help us celebrate as well.

Q: What new features does Summer Celebration offer in 2005?

A: Our Cultural Arts Pavilion is one of the signature pieces of Summer Celebration. We have Annie Lee, who we've commissioned to do our commemorative artwork for Summer Celebration. Author BB Moore Campbell is coming in. We have three black independent films coming in, one of which is a world premiere. We have the NBA Rhythm and Rims coming in as part of our Hip Hop Experience. And of course as part of our Race Against Prostate Cancer we will be unveiling our Rev. Charles Williams Prostate Cancer Mobile Unit and that will be placed at the end of our Minority Health Fair.

Q: What is the Mobile Unit?

A: It is basically a fully equipped medical office on wheels that will be dedicated to screening men for prostate cancer as well as about 10 other different screenings, including diabetes, HIV and AIDS testing. It's actually going to travel the state of Indiana. It's the first of its kind in the state.

Q: If there were one thought you want to let the community know about Black Expo this year what would it be?

A: We want the community to know that Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration is for the entire community. We still get questions every once in a while: "I'm Caucasian, can I come?" or, "I'm Asian, can I come?" And YES, of course! And you should! It is Indiana Black Expo, it is a celebration of African-American heritage and culture but it is also a celebration for everyone to partake in. Everyone will have a great time. We have events for the young and for seniors and everyone in between. All races, religions, creeds and backgrounds are welcome. That's what makes Indiana Summer Celebration so special and why it's survived for 35 years. It's for

the Indianapolis community. Everyone should come out and have a good time.

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