PHOTO: Sonya Johnson, chair of the first Williamson County Black Business Expo, is the president of the African-American Heritage Society Young Leaders Network.
By BROOKE WANSER
On August 18, 40 black business owners will spend the day showcasing their companies and products at Johnson Elementary School.
At the first-ever Black Business Expo hosted by Franklin’s African-American Heritage Society, vendors and nonprofit organizations will mix with musical performances and athletic demonstrations.
Sonya Johnson, a board member with the African-American Heritage Society and their Young Leaders Network President, is chairing the event.
After participating in the weeklong Indiana Black Expo Business Conference in 1999, Johnson said she has talked to the African-American Heritage Society board about bringing a similar event to Williamson County for the past two years.
“It’s been talked about, it’s really just about having the feet on the ground to do it,” she said.
At the Indianapolis event, Johnson said athletic and musical talents were on display, as well as vendors from all corners of the state.
“That’s what we’re trying to do here, connect the community to agencies they may not be aware of,” Johnson explained.
Alma McLemore, the president of the African-American Heritage Society, said one of the organization’s goals is “to showcase and maintain an awareness of the contributions African Americans are currently making in the areas of education, religion, business, economics, civics, leadership, government, sports, arts, music and so much more.”
“To our knowledge, it’s never been done before on a business mixer level,” local black business owner Robert Blair told the Home Page.
But as the county has grown over the years, the percentage of African-Americans living in the county has decreased tremendously, McLemore said.
Johnson and McLemore said the expo is another way to bring focus to residents of color, and showcase their work and experiences.
“It’s called the black expo, but it’s a community event,” noted Johnson. “It’s inclusive, it involves everyone.”
Exhibitors will include Wine & Design, AAP Graphics, Imani Girl Boutique, RW Global Travel, Community Child Care Center and James Threalkill Arts. Mercy Community Healthcare is an event sponsor.
Food vendors, gospel music, and Tennessee Titans cheerleaders will also welcome visitors to the event, Johnson said, and discounted tours will be offered to the historic McLemore House African-American Museum next door.
“It’s going to be really eye-opening,” Johnson said.
When: Saturday, Aug. 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Johnson Elementary School, 815 Glass Lane, Franklin
Register online for the free event at Eventbrite.