Organizers of a black business expo that kicked off Saturday, Sept 7, hope the event can raise awareness of the city’s black-owned businesses.
The expo includes a week’s worth of events, speakers, demos and gatherings. Monica Tucker, co-founder of the El Paso Black Expo, said she wanted to organize the event because some black businesses in El Paso need help getting the word out about their services.
“There needs to be education on why it’s important to be a black business owner, especially in this country,” Tucker said. “People would burn down our ancestor’s businesses, especially after slavery.
“When you have black business owners who don’t want to be known, we know there’s still a problem. It’s not about being separated, it’s about being included.”
The expo will feature a keynote speech and Q&A on Saturday with retired Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, a former commander of Fort Bliss. The Saturday event and gala will take place 7 p.m. at the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, 6789 Boeing.
“He said he’s up for answering every question in the book,” Tucker said.
The expo is a component of the El Paso Black Roundtable, a series of discussions and events for and about El Paso’s black business community. The Black Roundtable was founded in 2006.
“I’ve come across a lot of black business owners who feel like they’re not getting the support. Sometimes it’s advertising. A lot of us just can’t afford the rent,” Tucker said. “We feel like some of the realtors only want those who make a certain amount of money to rent those spaces. The small business owner can get stuck on social media or at expos or flea markets.”
On Sunday, the expo will feature a gospel celebration 4 p.m. at Prince of Peace Christian Fellowship, 2155 Wedgewood, to raise funds for the family of Pastor Michael Grady, whose daughter is recovering after being shot during the Aug. 3 Walmart shooting that left 22 dead.
“We include that event even for those who don’t believe because gospel is one of the staples when it comes to the black experience here in America,” Tucker said.
The expo will conclude on Sept. 14 with a vendor expo at the Armed Services YMCA at 7060 Covington. The event was originally slated for the El Paso Convention Center but was scaled back after those plans did not work out, Tucker said.
“There were some extreme situations or circumstances that caused us to say we did not want to utilize the venue,” Tucker said.
Other events will be featured throughout the week, including information sessions led by the FBI on cybersecurity for business owners and a Friday luncheon featuring a keynote address by Sandra Braham, former CEO of the El Paso YWCA.
Email El Paso Inc. reporter Sara Sanchez at email@example.com or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 105.