The 21st Black Business Expo (BBX) will open its doors Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., in "The Hangar" at the West Angeles Cathedral (a few steps from the Metro Train station) and will honor community legends who have made significant contributions to Los Angeles during its South Los Angeles (SoLA) awards.
The theme of the event is "Empowering Our South Los Angeles Community."
The Hangar is located at the intersection of Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards. Admission and parking are free.
The opening ceremony begins Friday at 10:30 a.m. at The Hangar. The honorees include Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who will receive the Tom Bradley award; Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., presiding bishop of Church of God in Christ Inc., and pastor of West Angeles Cathedral, who will be given the Booker T. Washington award; Genevieve Shepherd, Ph.D., principal of Tom Bradley Global Awareness Magnet School, who will receive the Mary McLeod Bethune award; 103 year-old retired Pullman Porter, Lee Gibson, said to be the oldest Pullman porter in the country, will be honored with the A. Philip Randolph award; and 99-year-old entrepreneur Leon Garr, who will receive the Frederick Douglass Award.
Designed to connect Black businesses and consumers, the expo will also continue the events for which it has become known, including the Tom Bradley Business Institute; Tastin' Black Culture Food court, West Coast GospeLive, the Health and Fitness Pavilion, Fashion, Art Zone, Kid's World and much more.
The Tom Bradley Business Institute takes place Friday from 2-4 p.m. and will focus on the impact of Obamacare on the community, especially small businesses.
GospeLive will feature local choirs and artists both days from 4-8 p.m.
The Art Zone will feature the works of local artists, including sculptor Stella Singleton, whose work was exhibited at the White House.
In Kids World, young people will have hands-on opportunities to create artwork and get introduced to animation and gaming by longtime animator Leo Sullivan.
This year's food court will also include McDonald's "smoothie" mobile and a gumbo cooking demonstration by Kathe Hambrick, executive director of River Road African American Museum (in Donaldsonville, La.).
"This year, more than ever, it is important to empower our South Los Angeles (SoLA) community," said Harold Hambrick, BBX executive director. "The time is always right to educate and encourage African American consumers to support Black businesses. In order for our businesses to continue to be the economic engines of our community, we must increase our support of them. BBX provides another opportunity for businesses and community members to connect. Not only have we relocated, but we have redesigned the show to be more community and consumer friendly."
Founded in 1989 by Barbara Lindsey as a way of introducing Black businesses to consumers, share information on entrepreneurship and business development, and building long-term relationships, BBX has exposed thousands of small businesses and corporations to nearly a million attendees.
According to the latest business research, 1.5 million African Americans spend more than $9 billion in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
For information, call (323) 290-4743 or visit www.blackbusinessexpo.com.