Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: December 2009/ January 2010
25 Largest African-American Conventions
By: Michael Bennett

It’s a pretty safe bet that most of you reading this article are suffering from a severe case of recession fatigue. We’ve all grown rather weary of all this recession talk and I for one am tired of writing about it.

Well, this fourth edition of Black Meetings and Tourism’s annual report on the largest African-American conventions seems to suggest that despite all the doom and gloom pronouncements, African-American attendance appears to be bucking the trend. While individual events suffered somewhat others exploded. The first entry in our top 25, the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education attracted 55,000 to Detroit.

Collectively, attendance at most African-American events held steady as compared to 2008 and some actually experienced a slight increase such as the NAACP’s 100th Anniversary gathering held in New York City.

A few African-American events lost attendees this year. Was that decline of major significance going forward or a minor blip on the radar? It’s a little too early to tell what 2010 will bring, but one thing is certain, if this jobless recovery continues, events across the board will suffer a decline in attendance. 

Are African-American conventions forcing suppliers to do more with less because of reduced budgets? Absolutely! Increasing numbers of groups have turned to what many considered second-tier markets to offset cost and keep their attendance up.

Places like St. Louis, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Columbia, SC, Cincinnati, Kansas City, MO and Nashville are prominent players in this evolving marketplace along with our first ever entry from north of the border. Other large suppliers are forced to compete at reduced prices.

As far as destinations are concerned, places like Las Vegas have experienced a double-digit decrease in meetings traffic over the first part of 2009. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority meetings are down almost 22 percent over the first six months of 2009 with attendance off 27.5 percent. Las Vegas is not alone. Orlando and other hotspots have also  experienced a slight decrease in meetings and conventions, yet both destinations continue to be the premiere sites for meetings and conventions. They are quickly adjusting to the changing market dynamics.

Each year we attempt to make this column more relevant to our readers by adding detailed information. Our intent is to have our readers hold on to this issue and use as a resource. If you have any suggestions to improve this article for next year, we invite you to contact Black Meetings and Tourism and share those thoughts.

As you might imagine gathering these figures required weeks of painstaking research and a constant flow of phones and emails for clarification. All of the attendance figures and room nights were obtained from convention and visitor’s bureaus in the respective host cities. We made a concerted effort to determine the value of conventions – comparing apples to apples if you will, but found that next to impossible. Some cities use economic impact others report direct spending. To compare one city to the next requires considering variables outside this writer’s expertise.

Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) has a direct spending calculator available to its members that requires the input of data to make the appropriate determinations. The calculator uses things like Metropolitan Statistical Area, type of event, industry category, attendee scope and more.

If you want a simple calculation for direct spending, multiply room nights by $290 or attendance by $1,036. Both figures were supplied by DMAI, but these are based on calendar year 2005. Keep in mind these are rough figures. If you require something more formal and you don’t have a mechanism in place contact DMAI.

Any report of economic impact or direct spending was left to the CVB and where it’s “Not Reported” we’ve chosen to leave it “Not Reported.”

Here is our disclaimer. The financial figures obtained from the CVBs are all over the map, so do your own research.

Sidebars at the end of this article highlight those special gatherings held annually in the same destinations with sizable attendance, such as the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) or the Essence Festival. Essence attracted over 400,000 people to New Orleans and the CBC brought in 8,000 to Washington DC. We placed these in a sidebar simply because destinations don’t have an opportunity to bid on their business.

Several annual gatherings such as the Delta Sigma Theta sorority and The Links have bi-annual events so they have been removed from our top 25, but rest assured they will both reappear in our 2010 issue. The Delta’s will visit New Orleans in 2010 and The Links will descend upon Detroit in the summer of 2010. These sisters and their organization’s are too big to ignore for any supplier. The Delta’s national convention typically attracts 10,000 to 15,000 attendees and The Links will bring anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000.

African-American’s continue to be guided by our faith as religious gatherings once again dominate. The top 25 features professional groups, fraternities, sororities and governmental conferences.

Also keep in mind most of these large organizations also have regional conferences that attract hundreds if not thousands. For example, the Links, Inc will have a regional conference in Detroit next June. Region 4 of the National Society of Black Engineers will conduct their annual conference in Cincinnati during the month of November 2009. So there is opportunity for additional business that all suppliers should be aware of.

And finally, many of the organizations below have local chapters who pitch their destination to the national office. For many suppliers, this would be a good place to start.

1. THE NATIONAL BAPTIST CONVENTION

Founded in 1886, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. is the nation’s oldest and largest African-American religious convention. According to the National Baptist Convention, the mission of the
Convention is to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ through preaching, teaching, and healing. The Congress of Christian Education is an auxiliary of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (NBCUSA.) The annual Christian Educational sessions are held the week following the third Sunday in June in various cities throughout the United States. This training event consists of both inspiration and instruction. The National Baptist holds multiple gatherings annually in cities all across the country, with each conference at a separate locale. They occupy numerous spots on our list based on attendance. They host a series of national and regional events, a few of which are listed below. Check nationalbaptist.com website for other gatherings held throughout the year.

The 104th National Baptist Congress of Christian Education
Attendance: 55,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Detroit
Convention Dates: June 17-25, 2009 Venues: Cobo Center
Exhibit/Meeting Space: Over 700,000 sq. ft. plus numerous hotels
Hotel: Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center and numerous others
Airlines: Northwest and American
Room Nights: 24,215
Estimated Direct Spending: $76 million
Headquarters: (Congress President’s office) Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, 224 North Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Tallahassee, Florida 32301
Congress President: Dr. R.B. Holmes
Membership: 7.5 million
Next Convention: Houston
Convention Dates: June 21-25, 2010
Website: nationalbaptist.com

129th Annual National Baptist Convention
Attendance: (est. 35,000 – 40,000)
Last/Current Convention Location: Memphis
Convention Dates: September 7-11, 2009
Venue: Cook Convention Center
Hotels: Over a Dozen Properties Used
Room Nights: 12,000 est.
Airlines: American and Northwest
Headquarters: 1700 Baptist World Center Drive, Nashville, TN 37207
President: Reverend Dr. William J. Shaw (president-elect Dr. Julius R. Scruggs)
Membership: 7.5 million
Next Convention Location: Kansas City, MO
Convention Dates: September 6-10, 2010
Venue: Kansas City Convention Center
Meeting Planner: Romona Riscoe
Website: nationalbaptist.com
Convention Dates: TBD

2. ANCIENT EGYPTIAN ARABIC ORDER NOBLES MYSTIC SHRINE – ANNUAL CONVENTION

This is a fraternal, social and charitable organization that embraces all the basic fundamentals and concepts of the Masonic Order. There is a strong drive within this organization for self improvement, enjoyment within its and rank and unselfish giving of goods and services on both the local and national level. They donate to the NAACP, the Legal Defense Fund, the Urban League, United Negro College Fund and annual grants to institutions of higher learning, hospitals and medical research.

Attendance: 15,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Atlanta
Convention Dates: August 14-20, 2009
Venue: Georgia World Congress Center
Hotels: Marriott Marquis, Hilton Atlanta, Hyatt Regency, Sheraton, Westin Peachtree
Room Nights: Not Provided
Estimated Economic Impact: Not Provided
Headquarters: 2239 Democrat Road, Memphis, TN 38132
Phone: (901) 395-0150
Leader: Oliver Washington, Jr., Imperial Potentate
Next Convention: Tampa
Convention Dates: August 13-23rd
Hotels: 13
Meeting Planner: Frederick M. Bell
Website: aeaonms.org

3. NATIONAL BLACK MBA ASSOCIATION (NBMBAA) – 31ST ANNUAL CONFERENCE

The NBMBAA vision is to be an organization that leads in the creation of economic and intellectual wealth for Blacks. Their mission as a professional membership organization of Black graduates with MBAs, advanced degrees, and entrepreneurs, is to increase the number as well as the diversity of successful Blacks in the business community. Established in 1970, the NBMBAA is dedicated to the development of partnerships that result in the creation of intellectual and economic wealth in the Black community.

Attendance: 15,000
Last/Current Convention Location: New Orleans
Convention Dates: Sept 22-26, 2009
Venue: Ernest Morial Convention Center
Hotels: Over a Dozen New Orleans Properties
Room Nights: 16,480
Economic Impact: $17.6 million
Headquarters: 180 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 236-2622
President and CEO: Barbara L. Thomas
Membership: 8,000 (representing 95,000 MBA’s)
Next Convention: Los Angeles
Convention Dates: September 2010
Meeting Planner: Bridgitti Knox, CMP
Website: nbmbaa.org

4. GOSPEL MUSIC WORKSHOP OF AMERICA (GMWA) – ANNUAL WORKSHOP

Founded by the late Rev. James Cleveland in 1967, The GMWA is the largest International music convention of its kind. Each year thousands assemble in a teaching, learning and performance-oriented environment from over 185 chapters across the United States, United Kingdom, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. According to GMWA, 75 percent of the recordings on Billboard Magazine’s gospel charts are written, arranged, produced and/or performed by GMWA members. One highlight of the annual convention – the National Mass Choir made up of 2,000 to 3,000 vocalists from chapters all over the world produce a new recording after just 16 hours of rehearsal. This convention has been the training grounds for such contemporary gospel artists Kirk Franklin and John P. Kee.

Attendance: 15,000-20,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Cincinnati
Convention Dates: July 25-August 1, 2009
Venue/Hotel: Duke Energy Center
Room Nights: est. 12,000
Economic Impact: est. $3.5 million
Headquarters: 3908 West Warren, Detroit MI, 48208
Chairman: Bishop Albert L. Jamison, Sr.
Phone: (313) 898-7833
Membership: 75,000
Next Convention: Cincinnati
Convention Dates: July 24-30, 2010
Convention Manager: Mark Smith
Website: gmwanational.org

5. FULL GOSPEL BAPTIST CHURCH FELLOWSHIP INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

Over 25,000 people attended the first Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship at the Louisiana Superdome in 1994. From the vision the Holy Spirit first impressed upon Founder and International Presiding Bishop Paul S. Morton, Sr. back in 1992 this Fellowship continues to grow in prestige and influence. Among the Fellowship’s major initiatives since 1994 include church planting in Africa and India, the dispensation of multiple $5,000 grants to struggling churches and the development of the Full Gospel Baptist Sunday School Curriculum.

Attendance: 10,000
Last/Current Convention: Atlanta
Convention Dates: June 2009
Venue: Georgia World Congress Center
Host Hotel: Omni at CNN Center
Room Nights: Not Provided
Economic Impact: Not Provided
Headquarters: 2240 Simon Bolivar St., New Orleans, LA 70113
International Presiding President: Bishop Paul S. Morton
Phone: (404) 288-0994
Next Convention: Atlanta
Dates: July 7-9, 2010
Venue: TBD
Meeting Planner: Elder Mary Ann Williams
Website: fullgospelbaptist.org

6. CHURCH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST OF THE APOSTOLIC FAITH – ANNUAL CONVOCATION

The church started in 1919, under the guidance of Bishop Robert C. Lawson, in New York City. The church quickly outgrew the space for worship as the congregation jumped to 200. Ministers and preachers were sent across the globe carrying the apostolic message. The church on 124th Street and 7th Avenue in New York is known as the “Mother Church” of the Churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. This group has numerous gatherings of varying sizes all across the nation.

90th International Holy Convocation
Attendance: 10,000
Last/Current Convention: Columbia, SC
Convention Dates: July 21-25, 2009
Venue: Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, Colonial Life Arena
Hotels: Clarion Hotel Downtown, Courtyard by Marriott Columbia Downtown at USC, Embassy Suites
Columbia – Greystone, and numerous others
Room Nights: 2,500
Direct Spending/Economic Impact: $1.1 million
Next Convention: Orlando
Dates: July 21-25, 2010
Venue/Hotel: Orlando World Center Marriott Resort and Convention Center
Meeting Planner: William Wilkens

International Congress
Attendance: 3,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Richmond, VA
Convention Dates: April 15-18, 2009
Venue: Convention Center
Hotels: Marriott, Omni, Doubletree
Headquarters: 2081 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd, New York, NY 10029
Phone: (212) 866-1700
Chief Apostle: Bishop William Lee Bonner
Presiding Apostle: Bishop James I.Clark, Jr.
Next Convention: Atlanta
Convention Dates: April 7-10, 2010
Hotels: Hyatt Regency Atlanta
Convention Committee Chair: Deacon Everette Lowe
Website: cooljc.org

7. NAACP – ANNUAL CONVENTION (100TH ANNIVERSARY)

The most visible of all Black organizations, is the NAACP. From its humble beginnings in a New York City apartment in 1909, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization has long stood for social justice and fought to insure that African-American voices would be heard. The mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. This famed organization speaks out on myriad of issues such as discrimination in the hotel industry, the lack of minorities in television and film, and protecting voter rights and the recent economic meltdown as it pertains to African-Americans.

Attendance: 9,000
Last/Current Convention Location: New York City
Convention Dates: July 11-16, 2009
Venue/Hotel: Hilton, Sheraton, New York Marriott
Room Nights: 16,200
Direct Spending: Not Provided
Headquarters: 4805 Mt. Hope Dr. Baltimore, MD 21215
Chairman: Julian Bond
Phone: (410) 580-5780
Membership: 300,000+
Next Convention: Kansas City, MO
Dates: July 9-15, 2010
Meeting Planner: Ana Aponte-Curtis
Website: NAACP.org

8. CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST (COGIC)

COGIC is one of our many faith-based groups that hold multiple conferences throughout the year. Many conferences draw at least 20,000. We’ve listed two here. COGIC has a history dating back well over 100 years ago and today boasts a membership into the millions. COGIC ministries extend to virtually every state and some 60 foreign countries. Conferences on tap for 2009 and beyond include: The General Bishops Conference in Baltimore, National Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Annual Spring Call Meeting in Memphis, and the Women’s International Convention in Denver. The Holy Convocation is held annually in Memphis, but starting in 2010 the new home will be St Louis. The Holy Convention traditionally does not change locations on an annual basis, but it typically attracts over 50,000. Previous estimates of the Holy Convocation’s economic impact on Memphis was $35 million annually.

International AIM Convention
Attendance:
8,500
Last/Current Convention Location: Tampa
Convention Dates: June 26-July 5, 2009
Venue: Tampa Convention Center
Hotels: 8 used – Headquarters Tampa Marriott Waterside Marina
Room Nights: 8,856
Direct Spending: $4.8 million
COGIC Offices of the General Secretary: 930 Mason Street, Memphis, TN 38126
Phone: (901) 947-9358
Presiding Bishop: Charles E. Blake, Sr.
Membership: 6 million
Next AIM Convention: Charlotte, NC
Meeting Planner: Bishop Roy Dixon
Website: cogic.org

9. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK ENGINEERS – ANNUAL CONVENTION

NSBE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the academic and professional success of African-American engineering and technical students and professionals. NSBE is the largest student-managed society with over 20,000 members in 400 chapters nationwide and overseas. NSBE offers its member’s leadership training, professional and academic development, mentoring opportunities, community service outreach programs and scholarships.

Attendance: est. 8,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Las Vegas
Convention Dates: March 25-29, 2009
Venue: Las Vegas Convention Center
Hotels: Ballys & The Flamingo
Room Nights: Unknown
Direct Spending: Unknown
Headquarters: 205 Dangerfield Road, Alexandria, VA 22314
Executive Director: Carl Mack
Phone: (703) 549-2207
Membership: 20,000
Next Convention: Toronto
Dates: March 31-April 4, 2010
Meeting Planner: Al Rutherford
Email: meeting@nsbe.org
Website: nsbe.org

10. NATIONAL MINORITY SUPPLIER DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL – ANNUAL CONVENTION

This council provides a direct link between corporate America and minority-owned businesses. Chartered back in 1972, this council is one of the country’s leading business membership organizations. Their primary mission is to provide increased procurement and business opportunities to minority businesses of all sizes. There are over 3,500 corporate organizations that are part of this network.

Attendance: 7,000
Last/Current Convention Location: New Orleans
Convention Dates: October 24-28, 2009
Venue: Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Hotels: New Orleans Marriott
Room Nights: 6,201
Economic Impact: $8.2 million
Headquarters: 1359 Broadway, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 944-2430
Next Convention: Phoenix, AZ
Dates: October 24-27, 2010
Website: nmsdc.org

11. NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE – ANNUAL CONVENTION

The National Urban League was established in 1910 and is the nation’s oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African-Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream. Today, the National Urban League spearheads the non-partisan efforts of its local affiliates.  There are over 100 local affiliates in 35 states and the District of Columbia providing direct services to more than 2 million people nationwide through programs, advocacy and research. The mission of the
Urban League movement is to enable African-Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.

Attendance: 5,000 est.
Last/Current Convention Location: Chicago
Convention Dates: July 29-August 1, 2009
Venue: McCormick Place Convention Center
Headquarters: 120 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005
President and CEO: Marc Morial
Phone: (212) 558-5300
Membership: 2.5 million
Next Convention: Washington DC
Convention Dates: July 28-August 1, 2010
Meeting Planner: Ms. Shawn Craig
Website: nul.org

12. NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (NMA)

Founded in 1895, the National Medical Association is the nation’s oldest and largest medical association. The NMA promotes the collective interests of physicians and patients of African descent. NMA carries out their mission by serving as the collective voice of physicians of African descent and is a leading force for parity in medicine, elimination of health disparities and promotion of optimal health. NMA’s membership is comprised of physicians in primary care specialties, as well as other medical and surgical sub-specialties, academic medicine, military medicine and medical administration.

Attendance: 5,000 est
Last/Current Convention Location: Las Vegas
Convention Dates: July 25-29, 2009
Venue/Host Hotel: Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
Room Nights: Not Reported
Direct Spending/Economic Impact: Not Reported
Headquarters: 1012 Tenth Street, NW, Washington DC 20001
Phone: (202) 347-1895
President: Dr. Willarda V. Edwards, MBA
Membership: 30,000
Next Convention: Orlando
Convention Dates: July 31-August 4, 2019
Director of Convention Services: Patricia Norman, CMP
Website: nmanet.org

13. BLACKS IN GOVERNMENT (BIG)

BIG is an advocate of equal opportunity and professional development for Black government employees at the Local, State and Federal levels. BIG, established in 1976 is mandated to promote equity, excellence and opportunity through employee advocacy, professional development and empowerment of African-Americans and others dedicated to justice and equity at all levels of government. BIG’s National Training Conferences are attended by many who reside in foreign countries such as Japan, England, Germany, Korea and Italy as well as the United States and its territories. The African-American community
has benefited through this groups advocacy in several areas to include: career progression, affirmative action and equal employment opportunities, education, economics, community outreach and politics.

Attendance: 4,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Baltimore
Convention Dates: Aug 21-29, 2009
Venue: Baltimore Convention Center
Hotels: Ten Hotels
Room Nights: 17,560
Economic Impact: $5.1 million
Headquarters: 3005 Georgia Ave., NW, Washington DC 20001
National President: Darlene Young
Phone: (202) 667-3280
Membership: 8,000+
Next Convention: August 15-20,000, 2010
Dates: Kansas City, MO
Meeting Planner: James Wilson, Office Staff Director
Website: bignet.org

14. PENTECOSTAL ASSEMBLIES OF THE WORLD – SUMMER CONVENTION

A revival broke forth in Kansas in 1901 and moved southward to Texas and finally reaching California in 1906. From there it spread to China, India and Africa fulfilling the work of the Lord. Their separate inistries include: women, men, ushers, single people, usher, international music and sacred art and much more. Like most of our religious groups the PAW has conferences and gatherings to teach the Word in places all over the globe drawing huge numbers.

Attendance: 4,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Atlanta
Convention Dates: August 8-15, 2009
Venue/Hotels: Marriott Atlanta Marquis
Room Nights: Not Provided
Direct Spending: Not Provided
Headquarters: 3939 N. Meadows Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46205
Phone: (317) 547-9541
Presiding Bishop: Horace E. Smith
Next Convention: Minneapolis (Annual Convention)
Convention Dates: August 7-14, 2010
Meeting Planner: Deborah Collins
Website: pawinc.org

15. NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF BLACK SCHOOL EDUCATORS (NABSE) – 37TH ANNUAL

The NABSE is the nation’s premier non-profit organization devoted to furthering the academic success primarily of children of African descent. Now in its 38th year, this organization boasts an outreach to more than 10,000 preeminent educators including teachers, administrators, superintendents as well as corporate and institutional members. The primary goals and objectives of the organization are; to promote and facilitate the education of all students with a special focus on African-Americans, establish a
coalition of African-American educators and others directly involved in the education process, create a forum for the exchange of ideas and strategies to improve opportunities for African-American educators and students, and identify and develop African-American professionals who will assume leadership positions in education and influence public policy.

Attendance: 4,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Indianapolis
Convention Dates: Nov 18-29, 2009
Venue: Indiana Convention Center
Hotels/Headquarters: The Indianapolis Marriott Downtown and 8 other hotels
Room Nights: 6,790
Direct Spending: $4.3 million
Headquarters: 310 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington DC 20003
Phone: (202) 608-6315
National President: Dr. Deborah Hunter-Harvill
President Elect: Carrol A. Thomas, Jr.
Membership: 10,000
Next Convention: Ft Worth
Venue: Ft Worth Convention Center
Projected Room Nights: 6,652
Projected Economic Impact: $5.8 million
Meeting Planner: Quentin Lawson
Website: nabse.org

16. CHURCH OF CHRIST –NATIONAL CRUSADE

The Crusade for Christ was started in Chicago when a group of ministers convened to discuss techniques that would consolidate and strengthen the efforts of the local congregations. The holistic approach to evangelism has lead to crusades all over the country from Houston to Los Angeles and Birmingham to Detroit.

Attendance: 4,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Kansas City, MO
Convention Dates: June 28-July 2, 2009
Venue: Kansas City Convention Center
Hotels: Headquarters: Marriott Kansas City Downtown
Room Nights: 2,225
Economic Impact: $1.79 million
Next Convention: TBD
Meeting Planner: John Dansby, Director of Finance
Website: cofccrusade.org

17. KAPPA ALPHA PSI

The Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity was started by a group of visionaries on the campus of Indiana University back in 1911. Today this fraternity is on college campuses from coast to coast with a legacy that’s almost 100 years old.

Attendance: 3,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Washington DC
Convention Dates: August 4-8, 2009
Venue: Indiana Convention Center
Hotels: Headquarters:
Room Nights: 7,650
Direct Spending: Not Reported
Headquarters: 2322-24 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19132-4590
Phone: (215) 228-7184
Executive Director: Richard Lee Snow
Next Convention: TBD
Website: kappaalphapsi1911.com

18. PROGRESSIVE NATIONAL BAPTIST – 48TH ANNUAL SESSION

Organized at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in 1961, no other group has contributed more to the struggle for civil and human rights than the Progressive National Baptists. The convention was the denominational home and national platform for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who addressed every annual session until his death in 1968. The Progressive’s count among their many distinguished members the Rev. Jessie Jackson, Rev. Benjamin Hooks, Rev. William Gray III, and Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy. The PNBC is an association of Baptist churches throughout the world committed to the mandate of making Disciples of Christ. Today, new generations of Progressive Baptist are continuing the struggle for full voter registration, education and participation, affirmation action against all forms of racism and bigotry, Black economic empowerment and development, equal educational opportunity and so much more.

Attendance: 2,500 est.
Last/Current Convention Location: Louisville
Convention Dates: Aug 3-8, 2009
Venue: Kentucky International Convention Center
Hotels: Hyatt Regency
Headquarters: 601 50th Street NE, Washington DC 20019
Phone: (202) 396-0558
National President: Dr. T. DeWitt Smith Jr.
Membership: 2.5 million
Next Convention: TBD
General Secretary: Walter Parrish III
Website: pnbc.org

19. IMPROVED BENEVOLENT PROTECTIVE ORDER OF ELKS OF THE WORLD (IBPOEW)

The IBPOEW is a fraternal organization founded back in 1898 in Cincinnati as a result of being denied membership in the all White BPOE. This group has a strong record in the areas of civil liberties and equal opportunity. The IBPOEW is involved in such diverse areas as education, health and veteran’s affairs. They have lodges throughout the U.S., Canada, the West Indies, Virgin Islands, The Bahamas and Panama.

Attendance: 2,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Kansas City, MO
Convention Dates: July 31-August 6, 2009
Venues: Crown Center Exhibit Hall
Hotels: Westin Crown Center, Hyatt Regency Crown Center
Room Nights: 7,400
Economic Impact: $2.49 million
Headquarters: PO Box 159, Winton, NC 27986
Phone: (252) 358-7661
Meeting Planner: Herbert Atkins, Convention Director
Membership: 450,000 members

20. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK ACCOUNTANTS

NABA was established in 1969 to expand the influence of minority professionals in the field of accounting and finance. The goals of NABA are to promote and develop professional skills, encourage and assist minority students entering the profession, provide opportunities for members to fulfill
their civic responsibilities, ensure long-term financial stability and provide adequate resources to implement chapter, regional and national programs and to represent the interests of current and prospective minority accounting professionals.

Attendance: 2,000
Last/Current Convention Location: New Orleans
Convention Dates: June 15-20, 2009
Venue: Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Hotel: Hilton New Orleans Riverside
Room Nights: 5,258
Estimated Economic Impact: $2.3 million
Headquarters: 7249-A Hanover Parkway, Greenbelt, MD 20770
Phone: (301) 474-NABA
National President: Walter J. Smith, CPA
Membership: 200 chapters
Next Convention: Houston
Dates: June 15-19, 2010
Hotel: Hilton Americas
Website: nabainc.org

21. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE CHURCH OF GOD (NACOG) – NATIONAL INSPIRATIONAL YOUTH CONVENTION

NACOG was officially organized in 1916 after operating as “Brothers and Sisters of Love” in Philadelphia the previous 10 years. This organization envisioned the uniting of African-American “immigrants” who were migrating from the South in search of new beginnings and new opportunities. The church expanded rapidly. The National Association seeks to be a community that assists and involves all persons regardless of age, ethnic background, creed, educational level or economic status. The National Inspirational Youth Council is an annual celebration since 1940 held in major cities across the United States hosting a global delegation of youth and family.

Attendance: 2,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Washington DC
Convention Dates: Dec 27-30, 2009
Hotels: Marriott Wardman Park
Room Nights: 2,188
Airlines: American Airlines
Direct Spending: $3.1 million
Headquarters: PO Box 357, West Middlesex, PA 16159
Phone: (724) 528-1340
Presiding Elder: Bishop Robert S. Davis
Next Convention: TBD
Website: nacog.com
Headquarters: National Invitational Youth Convention
6080 Foreland Garth Columbia, MD 21045 (866) 520-0093
Website: niyc.org
Meeting Planner: Charles Myricks

22. ALPHA PHI ALPHA FRATERNITY – 103RD ANNIVERSARY CONVENTION

Alpha Phi Alpha was the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African-Americans in 1906. Civil Rights leaders such as W.E.B. Dubois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall were all proud members. Today, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity develops leaders and promotes brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for our communities. The Fraternity has several committees involved in programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Collegiate Scholarships, Business and Economic Development and Racial Justice and Public Policy Commission.

Attendance: 1,600
Last/Current Convention Location: New Orleans
Convention Dates: July 16-20, 2009
Venue: Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Hotel: Hilton New Orleans Riverside
Room Nights: 4,500
Estimated Economic Impact: $1.9 million
Headquarters: 2313 St. Paul Street, Baltimore. MD 21218
Phone: (410) 554-0040
National President: Darryl R. Matthews, Sr.
Membership: 200,000
Next Convention: TBD
Meeting Planner: Willard Hall
Website: alphaphialpha.net

23. NATIONAL DENTAL ASSOCIATION – 96TH ANNUAL CONVENTION

The National Dental Association (NDA) is the largest and oldest organization of minority oral health professionals in the world. The NDA has become a powerful voice for the health care rights of the underserved. The NDA was formed in 1913 as a forum for practicing African- American dentists who were denied membership in other oral health organizations. The mission of the NDA is to continually enhance the skills of its members, recruit underrepresented minorities into the profession, and create opportunities for research among its members and the communities they serve.

Attendance: 1,500
Last/Current Convention Location: Jacksonville
Convention Dates: July 22-29, 2009
Host Hotel: Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront
Room Nights: 3,451
Economic Impact: $1.8 million
Headquarters: 3517 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20010
National President: Dr. Michael F. Battle
President Elect: Dr. Walter R. Owens
Membership: 10,000+
Next Convention: Honolulu
Dates: July 16-21, 2010
Meeting Planner: LaVette Henderson
Phone: (202) 588-1697
Website: ndaonline.org

24. NATIONAL FUNERAL DIRECTORS AND MORTICIANS ASSOCIATION

This is the world’s largest and oldest national association of African-American funeral directors, morticians and embalmers. One of their primary objectives is to foster research, conduct workshops and seminars, investigate funeral practices, develop and maintain standards of conduct designed to improve the business condition of its members and to maintain high standards of service and benefit to the public.

Attendance: 1,500
Last/Current Convention Location: Detroit
Convention Dates: August 1-5, 2009
Host Hotel: Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center
Room Nights: 2,295
Economic Impact: $1.3 million
Headquarters: 3951 Snapfinger Pkwy, Suite 570, Decatur, GA 30055
Phone: (800) 434-0948
National President: Ernest C. Adams, Jr. CFSP
Membership: 10,000+
Next Convention: TBD
Website: nfdma.com

25. BLACK ENTERPRISE ENTREPRENEUR’S CONFERENCE & EXPO

This is America’s premier business conference and networking event for African-American entrepreneurs, corporate executives and professionals. Event highlights include such things as The Deal Makers Expo, The Small Business Success Boot Camp, securing credit and building strategic alliances,
opportunities in the “green” economy and sessions on growth, development, globalization, new trends and social technologies. Some of the biggest names in African American business such as Don Peebles, Chairman & CEO, The Peebles Corporation attend and present at this event every year.

Attendance: 1,500
Last/Current Convention Location: Detroit
Convention Dates: May 15-19, 2009
Host Hotel: Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center
Room Nights: 1,396
Economic Impact: $1.6 million
Corporate Offices: 130 Fifth Avenue, 10th Floor, NY, 10011
Phone: (212) 242-8000
Contact: beevents@blackenterprise-.com
Next Convention: TBD
Website: blackenterprise.com

IMPORTANT GATHERINGS OF NOTE

As mentioned in the introduction to the top 25 African-American conventions, we devoted a little space to events that don’t necessarily fit the typical definition of a convention. Many of the events below are held in the same location annually, which is the main reason some did not appear in our top 25. The shear impact, popularity, importance, social and economic significance requires that we bring these gatherings to your attention.

ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL

Sponsored by Essence magazine, this is the largest event celebrating African-American culture and achievement in the United States. Despite a poor economy, Louisiana Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu’s
office reports that over 428,000 people descended on New Orleans in early July generating over $130 million in economic impact for New Orleans. In total over 75 hotels were used with over 25,000 room nights. Not bad for a town still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This event is the single largest gathering of African-Americans in the country. Not only do you hear the best in Hip Hop, R & B, Gospel and Jazz by some of the world’s top talent, Essence is also about empowerment through prayer and education with numerous seminars hosted by some of the best minds in the African-American community.

INDIANA BLACK EXPO 39THANNUAL SUMMER CELEBRATION

This expo is one of the largest and most popular events in the country. Held in July, this expo attracted over 200,000 people using 29,000 room nights with an estimated economic impact of over $22 million. The various symposiums with civic leaders cover everything from economics to political and social issues facing African-Americans. Entertainment is second to none with performances from the likes of Sugar Hill Gang, Eric Benet, Maze with Frankie Beverly and more.

BRONNER BROTHERS

Bronner Brothers holds several significant events mainly on the east coast. Atlanta and Baltimore hosted events that drew thousands. The Mid Winter Hair Show held at the Georgia World Congress Center attracted 25,000 attendees. Based on previous years’ estimates, this one show had over $17 million in economic impact on Atlanta. The Mid-Summer Show brought in even more with 55,000 people in attendance. Based on previous years, that is approximately $29 million dropped on the city of Atlanta.
The Bronner Brothers is a privately held company whose mission is to pursue excellence by manufacturing and distributing hair care and skin products for African-Americans. Their website
is bronnerbrothers.com

CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. was established in 1976 as a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy, research and educational institute. The Annual Legislative Conference is considered to be the premier African-American conference on policy issues. The ALC is a platform for African-American members of Congress to share the progress of their work on legislative items and also allows for the exchange of ideas and how they relate to policy issues that are of critical concern to their constituents. CBC is held every September in Washington DC and draws 8,000 to 10,000 attendees.

TOM JOYNER FAMILY REUNION

Put on and hosted by radio personality Tom Joyner, this family reunion attracts thousands each year. Now in its 9th year this reunion celebration was held in Orlando, FL September 3-7, attracting over 6,000 people with 6,000 room nights according to the Orlando CVB. The projected economic impact was over $8.8 million. The host hotel for 2009 was the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. Other
venues used include: SeaWorld and Universal Orlando. Past performers include Al Green, Earth Wind & Fire, D. L. Hughley, Omarion, Lil JJ and Dr. Bobby Jones. This celebration features a family BBQ, a Family Fun Center, seminars and Sunday’s Gospel Explosion. Also included are tickets to several Orlando area theme parks.

THE NATIONAL COALITION OF BLACK MEETING PLANNERS

This is the preeminent organization for African-American meeting planners. They hold several conferences throughout the year. Their next event is the Fall Educational Conference to be held in
Daytona Beach, Florida, December 2-6, 2009. Over 500 people are expected to attend the premiere event for CVB’s, hoteliers and others looking to network with African-American meeting planners.

TOP 10 CONVENTIONS BY ROOMNIGHT OF THOSE REPORTED BY CVB’S

National Baptist ConventionChristian Education 24,215
National Black MBA Association 16,480
Blacks in Government 17,560
NAACP 16,200
National Baptist Convention 12,000
Gospel Music Workshop of America 12,000
Church of God In Christ – AIM 8,856
Kappa Alpha Psi 7,650
Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World 7,400
National Alliance of Black School Educators 6,790
National Association of Black Accountants 5,258

OTHER PROMINENT AFRICAN AMERICAN GATHERINGS WITH 1,000 ATTENDEES OR MORE

• Delta’s Sigma Theta
• The Links Incorporate
• National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
• 100 Black Men of America
• Ebenezer AME Church
• Coalition of Black Trade Unionist
• General Grand Masonic Congress
• National Black Nurses Association
• Annual Conference National Bar Association
• National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers
• Tuskegee Airman National Conference
• Sigma Gamma Rho
• National Association of Real Estate Brokers

 

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