While in New Orleans, ESSENCE Will Host a Global Black Economic Forum
NEW ORLEANS – Now in its 25th year, ESSENCE Festival presented by Coca-Cola has become the world’s largest cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience for black communities. Boasting an international audience of 500,000 guests, the New Orleans-based extravaganza injects nearly $4 billion into the local economy.
The 2019 event, which takes place from Thursday, July 4, through Sunday, July 7, features more than 80 major musical performances spanning five stages, along with expanded programming that intersects the worlds of fashion, food and wine, health and wellness, and entrepreneurship.
For the first time, ESSENCE Festival will host a physical Global Black Economic Forum, where attendees can connect with corporate executives, business moguls, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and government leaders.
During the forum, which happens on Friday and Saturday, a series of enlightening presentations, roundtable discussions, and networking opportunities will unfold inside the Contemporary Arts Center on Camp Street.
“This is meant to be a global convening epicenter for corporate, government, community, economic influencers,” said Joy Profet, the chief operating officer of ESSENCE Communications. “It’s really going to be an incredible experience.”
Speakers include Ben Horowitz, the cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz; Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square, Inc.; Thasunda Brown-Duckett, the CEO of Chase Consumer Banking from JP Morgan Chase; Marc H. Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans, and the current president and CEO of The National Urban League; Beatrice Estrada, the founder of The Honey Pot; and Reverend Al Sharpton.
The forum is open to the public, but guests must register and purchase a ticket in advance. The event can accommodate about 350 people per day.
“It is meant to be somewhat intimate so that we can have real interactive conversations,” said Profet, adding that she hopes the forum fosters a community of individuals that continue to interact with each another online, after ESSENCE Festival comes to an end.
“We are trying to create epicenters in these forums where the dialogue ultimately advances economic empowerment and generational wealth for our communities,” Profet explained. “It takes not only work from communities, but from key CEOs, key heads of state, and government officials and diplomats, to make meaningful change happen – to close the wealth gap and the wealth disparities within our country and within many of our countries … At the end of the day, we need to create economic parity and inclusion for all.”
Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur is the associate news editor of BizNewOrleans.com