“We wanted to do something different,” said Missouri Black Expo president Thomas Bailey. “You know they always say if you do something the same way over and over again and expect different results that it’s the first step towards insanity.”
So as they head into year 22, the Missouri Black Expo will move from America’s Center to Saint Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena for its 2013 festivities next weekend (August 10-11), themed “The Power Within.”
“Chaifetz is a major concert venue where the African-American community is used to attending concerts, comedy shows, basketball games, and the convention center is more of an exhibitor’s venue, so it’s almost like the script was completely flipped,” Bailey said.
“We needed to remake the Expo – to give it another twist and put some excitement into it and do some things that would make people re-energized about it. I think Chaifetz is going to give us a great opportunity to do that.”
Bailey and his Missouri Black Expo team had to get creative in order to adapt to the Chaifetz.
There will be booths on two different levels – dozens lined around the concourse of the arena and more than 100 on the floor. The SLU Billikens practice gym will host the boxing tournament and the youth address.
While the layout of the Black Expo will change, the basic attractions are back: concerts starring Joe and Kelly Price, a health fair, a citywide church service hosted by the Seventh Day Adventists, the annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Walk and keynote address.
“We always want to enjoy ourselves,” Bailey said. “At the same time I think there is an opportunity while they are enjoying themselves to expose them to resources that could be good for their lives.”
It’s happened before.
“I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘Tom, if I hadn’t been at that Expo, I wouldn’t have known that I have throat cancer,’” Bailey said.
“Last year a guy came and he went in to get a free EKG from Saint Louis University, and he actually was in cardiac arrest at the time he went in for the EKG. So, of course that saved his life.”
New elements found in the lifestyle lounges – ranging from gaming and technology to natural hair – have been incorporated into the Black Expo’s Chaifetz experience.
Moving to Chaifetz means free parking. Any Black Expo regular knows that spending a minimum of $20 to park on a Rams or Cardinals game night was a real possibility during the America Center days. The Cards will be playing the Cubs on the weekend of the Black Expo, and by being at Chaifetz the added traffic congestion and parking costs will be avoided.
“The other thing I love about Chaifetz is that it’s on a college campus,” Bailey said. “I was excited about being able to populate us on Saint Louis University’s campus and then be right across the street from Harris-Stowe.”
The Power Within address will be provided by motivational speaker and best-selling “Think and Grow Rich” author Dennis Kimbrough.
“He always talks about how we have to know ourselves and really get comfortable about who we really are before we can start tapping into our power,” Bailey said. “I’m hoping that people will come out, hear his message and be inspired.”
The 22nd Missouri Black Expo will take place August 10-11 at Saint Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena. For more information and a full lineup of events, visit www.missouriblackexpo.com or call (314) 296-3556.