When Merry Green first decided to host an exposition exclusively for black women 28 years ago, she never imagined it would be a huge success.
Working as the promotions director for radio station V103, she often hosted events aimed at connecting businesses with black customers. Through her work, she saw opportunities to create events just for black women, and she founded the first Black Women’s Exposition in 1993.
The 27th Annual Black Women’s Expo kicks off this weekend with over 400 booths at McCormick Place offering everything from business advice to hair care tips, and products from clothing to insurance. Sold. Expo sponsors included JP Morgan Chase, Walgreens and Verizon.
“When the expo started, we thought we would come up with something. Women filled the lobby at the first expo and come back every year,” said Green. “This event really empowers women and gives them the opportunity to meet people, grow businesses and learn how to build communities.”
From Friday to Sunday, attendees explored the many exhibits and participated in sessions covering topics such as health equity, financial support to grow your business, and mental health.
“This expo not only informs women, but also gives them confidence,” Green said. “Women come to me and say thank you for doing this and that it’s changed their lives.”
Green said the aim is to make the expo accessible to everyone. Discounted tickets are on sale at Walgreens, and many exhibitors set up booths at the expo for the first time, Green said.
In one of Sunday’s sessions, black women’s health care was discussed, particularly as it relates to gynecology, breast cancer, and colon cancer.
Much of the discussion focused on empowering black women to be their own advocates within the health care system, especially when doctors didn’t take their concerns seriously.
“In this age of accounting and empowerment for Black women … we need to make sure that there is empowerment in our health as well.” That means putting yourself last.”
One of the panelists was Donna Christian-Harris, a nurse practitioner at the University of Chicago Medical Center who specializes in breast cancer and addresses patient “survivorship.”
She helps recovering breast cancer patients have access to all their records, stay updated on other routine care, and check in regularly to detect recurrent cancer.
Sandra Lavoe, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the University of Chicago, said during a panel discussion, “I’ve had many patients in the past who didn’t listen to their doctors and said they had never been burned.
“It’s so important to find a doctor who actually listens to you and listens to you when you tell them something’s wrong, something’s wrong. But it’s hard to find.” I know.”
Candice Henry, a colon cancer survivor, spoke about what she went through leading up to her diagnosis and the struggles that followed.
Henry was misdiagnosed for six months before being diagnosed with colon cancer. After his third trip to the emergency room, an emergency colonoscopy found a grape-sized tumor in his colon.
But after she beat cancer, Henry said she was unable to function because of the enormous financial burden that ensued. I couldn’t. She had five daughters to feed her.
“I became invisible to the medical system,” Henry said.
Henry now works with the Blue Hat Foundation, a local group that helps colon cancer patients and their families.
“We need to speak up for ourselves. We need to say we’re not okay today,” Henry said. I have.”
Real estate broker and financial advisor Sandra Davis, who was in the audience, said she was particularly impressed by Henry’s story.
“After hearing all about the financial hardships she went through, I now want to develop a course on health care financing to help those who may be dealing with these issues.
Davis attended the expo and asked for advice on growing her business called Wealth Equity, Wealth Justice.
“It’s been great to be able to explore the booth and attend these sessions and hear real stories from real women,” Davis said.
“It has empowered and inspired me, and I have learned some great information that has helped me and helped me grow my business.”
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