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Black Women’s Expo offers inspiration, sisterhood

By Tariqah Shakir-Muhammad -The Final Call- | Last updated: Apr 19, 2018 - 12:07:40 PM

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(1) Hundreds of vendors and many insightful workshops attracted customers; (2) Actress Kimberly Elise with fan during workshop.; (3) Business owners, entrepreneurs and shoppers enjoy vending; (4) M.G.T and G.C.C. share information on canning during Black Women’s Expo. Photos: Haroon Rajaee

CHICAGO—Business owners, entrepreneurs and shoppers came together for this year’s Black Women’s Expo at the McCormick Place in early April.

The M.G.T. and G.C.C., Muslim women of the Nation of Islam were also there to share vital information on canning foods and the dietary law in books I and II of How to Eat to Live by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

Adilah Muhammad, a fashion designer who recently launched her brand called Adilah M., was not far away with her own booth. Her new clothing line features modest, beautiful and trendy pieces that were featured in a trunk show at Macy’s in January. She has also been in various blogs and publications, including The Final Call, Chicago Fashion Incubator and Chicago Women.

“I guess for me it was having a wider audience, being able to view my work, hear their thoughts. Black women clearly are a greater consumer, that’s why everyone’s here.” Adilah Muhammad said. “I think when you get a chance to see Black women interact with your own product, you get a feel for how they connect to it.”

Adilah Muhammad (middle) with supporters for her new fashion line, Adilah. Photos: Haroon Rajaee

The M.G.T decorated their table with samples of jams and other foods that were pre-canned. Cooking tutorials, instruction sheets, on-site advice and canning classes was offered to shoppers.

The Black Women’s Expo was particularly lively this year with special guests such as Kimberly Elise, Latice Crawford, Johnny Gill and Tami Roman. Pictures and testimonies of the three-day event filled the Twitter hashtag #shematters.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel even paid a visit and spoke briefly about Chicago’s investment in smaller businesses.

“I just love sisterhood because I just appreciate what we bring to the table, even if it’s different from what I bring,” Cynthia Johnson, vice president of the Urban Promotion at Columbia Records and panelist for the “Bosses In Heels: Black Women in Media and Entrepreneurship” session told

Key discussions during the April 6-8 weekend focused on entrepreneurship, self-healing and analysis, health and technology. News feeds and social media were buzzing with positivity from the expo.

“I always enjoy this great positive gathering of Black women, all of kindred entrepreneurial spirits. It’s awesome to see us in a positive environment, looking good, smelling good, healthy, wealthy, intelligent, articulate, and selling our own products. #BWE,” Brenda Daniels posted on the BWE Facebook page.

Joslind Brown was excited to attend the Candid Conversation with Kimberly Elise seminar about natural health and wellness for Black women. “This was my first time going and I really enjoyed myself. My favorite part was seeing Kimberly Elise and Jazz CEO EQ of JSculpt Fitness,” Mrs. Brown wrote on Facebook. “I feel that ALL women should go at least once.  It teaches empowerment entrepreneurship, uplifting one another and RESPECT.”

Shoppers enjoying various vending tables and each other's company.

The BWE’s featured entertainment was from artists Nia Kay, PHOR, Trey White and Charmaine. Dance performances, live R&B and fashion shows were the theme of the second day; the final day ended with gospel performances and a Live Steppers performance featuring DJ Sam Chapman.

Guests took home a positive image of Black businesses, sisterhood and the opportunity to discuss important issues. Many look forward to the next BWE.

“I had a great time at the event Black Women’s Expo 2018, at McCormick Place,” Bobbie Jean Ward posted. “It was very crowded, the turnout was great! It was a very enculturating experience to see so many African Americans together enjoying the various celebrities, arts, crafts, health displays and information that were exhibited and more! A Wealth of Beauty and Pride in one huge Venue. There was something there for everyone to enjoy. Looking forward to next year’s event!”