This week, something happened that I prayed would NEVER come to pass. As founder of the Black Women’s Expo (BWe), the country’s largest and longest running exposition targeting Black women, I must inform thousands of supporters, exhibitors and sponsors that this year’s Expo has been cancelled. There. I said it… CANCELLED!
We had hoped to ride out the wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, but have accepted that this global crisis is more widespread and mysterious than first thought. The health and safety of everyone involved is definitely my first concern, but my heart also aches for the hundreds of Black business owners and non-profit organizations who were counting on the revenue and exposure the Black Women’s Expo continues to deliver year after year.
I received word from McCormick Place officials that the State of Illinois has cancelled all scheduled events at the venue through August. I think I had to read that email at least three more times before it really sank in. After a 25-year run, this is a first, and I wasn’t quite sure how to stomach this with so many layers of hurt attached to a decision made that was beyond my control.
I felt compelled, as a small business owner, to express my disappointment and empathy to those who have spent countless dollars on their product, travel arrangements and other expenses just to be a part of BWe. Please know that I get it, and I too will experience a financial loss as a result of this unexpected cancellation.
Now that I have poured out all of my feelings, let me move on to the silver linings of this crisis. The good news is that the Black Women’s Expo has already been rescheduled for April 9-11, 2021. I extend a personal thank you to Mayor Lori Lightfoot for sending a word of encouragement my way and pledging her support of our BIG COMEBACK next year.
As for the exhibitors, they have the option of holding on to their reserved spot for next year or receive a refund. Either way, I thank you for your support.
But wait, there’s a little bit more good news! When our first date in April was rescheduled, our team immediately made the pivot to hosting virtual events. We forged a partnership with Lifetime Television to host a watch party and Twitter chat featuring The Clark Sisters Movie, presented compelling panel discussions and virtual workouts with nationally known fitness experts.
This type of online outreach will continue through the remainder of the year. I am counting on our supporters, whether long-time or new to the BWe brand, to stay with us!
In the meantime, may you and everyone you love, BE WELL!
Merry Green, Founder of the Black Women’s Expo