Wish You Were Here
Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: September/October 2011
The 25 Largest African-American Conventions Of 2011
By: Michael Bennett


This is the sixth year Black Meetings and Tourism has tracked the top 25 African-American conventions by attendance. Six years seems like a lifetime ago. It was pre-recession and the global economy was humming along. The stock market was at record levels and access to capital was never easier. Tourism revenues were at an all time high. Meeting and convention attendance and corresponding revenues were off the charts.

Let the good times roll. Hotels expanded capacity and increased room rates in disproportion to the actual rate of growth of the overall economy believing those good times were here to stay. Consumers were spending money as if they actually owned the banks and the Federal Reserve. Property values rose faster than the Space Shuttle. Several of the more vocal pundits among us predicted long-term sustained growth with no end in sight – the euphoria was contagious.

When I re-read the article on top African-American conventions I wrote six years ago it was filled with quotes from well respected sources about growth potential of the overall market and how African-American meetings were contributing mightily to that growth. Along comes the summer of 2008 and signs of an economic collapse were imminent, but we continued to ignore the obvious. The dam had cracks, but we were all drunk on economic prosperity. A few months later the dam burst destroying everything in its path. The market dropped 5,000 points in just a few months – millions lost their jobs. We had officially entered a terrible recession with talks of another Great Depressions. This financial crisis was here.

Three years later our economy remains sluggish at best. But as I compared what I wrote back in 2006 to the 2011 version, one thing jumped out – the overall attendance of African-American themed meetings and conventions is significantly higher than pre-recession levels. I’m not suggesting revenues and profits have returned to 2006 levels as that is beyond the scope of this article, but based on pure number of attendees, we’re back in a big way.

Attendance at conventions for the top 25 organizations listed on the pages that follow is over 300,000.
If we were to consider all group gatherings with over 1,000 attendees, that figure easily exceeds a half million, and its safe to assume that we were unable to capture data for all organizations with large turnouts. Keep in mind, for the number of meetings and conventions with over 1,000 attendees – which is all we tracked here – there are many times that number of smaller gatherings that could easily result in an exponential increase in total African-American convention attendance.

That’s phenomenal growth given the economic environment we operate in and the high African-American unemployment rate. Before sharing our findings, I want to thank all the Convention and Visitors Bureaus for their unprecedented level of cooperation. While we still had a few stubborn holdouts this was the best year yet for gathering this information. As I mentioned in previous years our intent is not to pry or steal your proprietary information but rather show you the possibilities and size of the African-American market in the hopes your organization can take advantage of the information provided.

Faith-based organizations continue to lead the way with fully half of all attendees below gathering for a religious event. All the major African-American religious groups are represented there from the National Baptist, to the Progressive National Baptist, Church of God in Christ to the African Methodist Episcopal Church and more. Professional organizations are well represented with Blacks in Government, the National Black MBA Association and the National Society of Black Engineers.

On the advocacy front the NAACP had an outstanding turnout at their annual convention in Los Angeles as did the National Urban League in Boston. All of the top fraternities and sororities are represented as well. In terms of destinations Orlando, Atlanta, Houston and Washington DC were the most popular, but St Louis had the single largest gathering hosting Church of God in Christ’s Holy Convocation. A trend that we’ve reported in recent years and continues in 2011 is the preference for second-tier or smaller cities with solid infrastructure. Cincinnati, Atlantic City, Indianapolis, Birmingham, Jacksonville and Tampa attracted some rather impressive groups.

And 2012 promises to be no different, as New Orleans; Nashville; Greensboro and Charlotte, NC; Pittsburgh; and Denver have already attracted some members of this year’s top 25. If you add groups with 1,000 attendees or more to the list of second-tier cities you can add, Columbia, SC; Baltimore and Miami to the list. Traditional conventions cities with multiple conferences of 1,000 or more attendees include Philadelphia, Atlanta, Orlando and New Orleans.

And finally, here is the disclaimer. For the purposes of our reporting, we depended on the CVBs to provide most of the information in regards to the number of attendees and the estimated economic impact. Please keep in mind that the economic impact of a particular convention is germane to the areas in which the conference or convention is held. We encourage you to do your own homework using our research as a guide.

1. 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. Several are listed here with detailed information on one listed below. 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 with multiple conferences throughout the year, three of which are listed below.

104th Holy Convocation

Attendance: 35,000
Location: St Louis (Held annually in St Louis.)
Convention Dates: October 31–November 9, 2011
Venue: America’s Center
Hotels: Over a Dozen Properties
Room Nights: Not Reported
Estimated Economic Impact: $35 million (based on previous years)

International AIM Convention

Attendance: 15,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Houston
Convention Dates: July 4 -9, 2011
Venue: George R. Brown Convention Center
Hotels: Hilton Americas and numerous others
Room Nights: 13,680
Estimated Economic Impact: $14.6 million
COGIC World Headquarters: 930 Mason Street, Memphis, TN 38126
Phone: (901) 947-9300
Presiding Bishop: Charles E. Blake, Sr.
Membership: 6 million
Next AIM Convention: Birmingham, AL
Next Convention Dates: July 1–6, 2012
Meeting Planner: AIM Chairman---J Drew. Sheard
Website: cogic.org

Leadership Conference

Attendance: 2,500
Last/Current Convention: Birmingham, AL
Convention Dates: January 17-20, 2011
Venue/Hotel: Sheraton Birmingham
Room Nights: ,820
Estimated Economic: Impact: $3.6 million
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2. THE NATIONAL BAPTIST CONVENTION, USA

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. The National Baptist holds multiple gatherings annually in cities all across the country. Two of the larger ones are listed below.

The 106th National Baptist Congress of Christian Education

Attendance: 25,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Indianapolis
Convention Dates: June 20–25, 2011
Venues: Indianapolis Convention Center
Hotel: Indianapolis Marriott Downtown and numerous others
Room Nights: 22,710
Estimated Direct Spending: $24.8 million
Headquarters: 1700 Baptist World Center Drive, Nashville, TN 37207
Congress President: Dr. George W. Waddles
Membership: 7.5 million
Next Convention: St. Louis
Convention Dates: June 15-23, 2012
Venue: America’s Center
Website: nationalbaptist.com

131ST ANNUAL NATIONAL BAPTIST CONVENTION

Attendance: 25,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Orlando
Convention Dates: September 5–9, 2011
Venue: Orlando Convention Center
Hotels: Peabody Hotel, Rosen Centre Hotel and numerous others
Room Nights: 11,825
Estimated Economic Impact: $27.8 million
Headquarters: 1700 Baptist World Center Drive, Nashville, TN 37207
President: Reverend Dr. William J. Shaw (President Dr. Julius R. Scruggs)
Membership: 7.5 million
Next Convention Location: Atlanta
Convention Dates: September 3–9, 2012
Venue: Georgia World Congress Center
Website: nationalbaptist.com
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3. 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: 25,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Cincinnati
Convention Dates: August 15-18, 2011
Venue: Duke Energy Convention Center
Hotels: Millennium Hotel and numerous others in Ohio and Kentucky
Room Nights: 19,515
Estimated Economic Impact: $5.8 million
Headquarters: 2239 Democrat Road, Memphis, TN 38132
Phone: (901) 395-0150
Leader: Donald Parks, Imperial Potentate
Next Convention: TBD
Convention Director: Donald Parks
Website: aeaonms.org
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4. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc

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 100 years old. This fraternity has large events in addition to their Grand Chapter Meetings, which are held every two years.

Attendance: 15,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Indianapolis
Convention Dates: July 5–10, 2011
Venue: Indianapolis Convention Center
Hotels: The Westin Indianapolis, Indianapolis Marriott Downtown and others
Room Nights: 9,000
Est. Direct Spending: $17.9
Phone: (215) 228-7184
Headquarters: 2322-24 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19132-4590
Executive Director: Major Spence T. Bruce
Next Convention: Houston (2013)
Website: kappaalphapsi1911.com
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5. BLACKS IN GOVERNMENT (BIG) NATIONAL TRAINING CONFERENCE

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.

Attendance: 15,000 (projections based on previous years)
Last/Current Convention Location: Boston
Convention Dates: Aug 22-25, 2011
Venue: John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center
Hotels: Boston Marriott Copley and Sheraton Boston Hotel
Room Nights: 12,000 (projection based on previous year)
Economic Impact: $10 million (projection based on previous year)
Headquarters: 3005 Georgia Ave., NW, Washington DC 20001
National President: J. David Reeves
Phone: (202) 667-3280
Membership: 8,000
Next Convention: August 2012
Location: Detroit
Meeting Planner: James Wilson, Office Staff Director
Website: bignet.org
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6. THE POTTER’S HOUSE OF DALLAS, INC

Bishop T.D. Jakes is founder and senior pastor of The Potters House of Dallas, which has over 30,000 members and over 50 outreach ministries. Bishop Jakes and his wife Serita Jakes have touched the lives of millions around the world through various humanitarian projects, relief efforts, community service initiatives and record breaking conferences that draw thousands. Two of the many conferences held throughout the year are listed below.

Women Thou Art Loosed

Attendance: 15,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Houston
Convention Dates: October 20–22, 2011
Venue: Lakewood Church
Hotels: Renaissance Houston (Headquarters)
Room Nights: 1,085
Economic Impact: $14.6 million
Headquarters: 6777 W. Kiest Blvd., Dallas TX 75236
Phone: (800) BISHOP2
Global Account Director: Henry Richards

Pastor Retreat

Attendance: 5,000
Last/Current Event Location: Orlando
Convention Dates: March 31–April 2, 2011
Venue/Hotel: Orlando World Center Marriott
Room Nights: 1,100
Delegate Spending: $3.3 million
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7. 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.

Attendance: 15,000 (Projected)
Last/Current Convention Location: Tampa
Convention Dates: August 13–19, 2011
Venue: Tampa Convention Center
Hotels: Tampa Westside Water Hotel and Marina and others
Room Nights: 13,192 (Projected)
Economic Impact: $4.1 million (Projected)
Headquarters: 3908 West Warren, Detroit MI, 48208
Chairman: Bishop Albert L. Jamison, Sr.
Phone: (313) 898-7833
Membership: 75,000
Next Convention: Nashville
Convention Dates: July 7-13, 2012
Venue: Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
Convention Manager: Mark Smith
Website: gmwanational.net
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8. NATIONAL BLACK MBA ASSOCIATION (NBMBAA) – 33RD 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: 12,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Atlanta
Convention Dates: October 4-8, 2011
Venue: Georgia World Congress Center
Hotels: Omni Hotel at CNN Center
Room Nights: 15,450
Economic Impact: $13.3 million
Headquarters: 180 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 236-2622
Chairman: William (Bill) Wells, Jr.
Membership: 8,000 (representing 95,000 MBA’s)
Next Convention: Indianapolis
Convention Dates: October 4–8, 2012
Website: nbmbaa.org
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9. NATIONAL SOCIETY 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: 11,000
Last/Current Convention Location: St Louis
Convention Dates: March 23–27, 2011
Venue: America’s Center
Hotels: Eight Properties including Robert Mayfair Wyndham, Renaissance Grand, Hyatt Regency St Louis at the Arch” and others
Room Nights: Not Reported
Economic Impact/Spending: Not Reported
Headquarters: 205 Dangerfield Road, Alexandria, VA 22314
Executive Director: Carl Mack
Phone: (703) 549-2207
Membership: 20,000
Next Convention: Pittsburgh
Dates: March 28 –April 1, 2012
Meeting Planner: Al Rutherford
Email: meeting@nsbe.org
Website: nsbe.org
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10. NAACP – ANNUAL CONVENTION

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 to the recent economic meltdown as it pertains to African-Americans.

Attendance: 10,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Los Angeles
Convention Dates: July 23-28, 2011
Venue: Los Angeles Convention Center
Hotels: Wilshire Grand Hotel, and J.W. Marriott
Room Nights: 9,200
Estimated Economic Impact: $8.2 million
Headquarters: 4805 Mt. Hope Dr., Baltimore, MD 21215
Chairman: Julian Bond
President: Benjamin Jealous
Phone: (410) 580-5780
Membership: 300,000+
Next Convention: Houston
Dates: July 5–13, 2012
Venue: George R. Brown Convention Center
Meeting Planner: Ana Aponte-Curtis
Website: NAACP.org
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11. BLACK ADVENTIST YOUTH ASSOCIATION – UNITED YOUTH CONGRESS

The mission is to equip and empower an emerging generation of youth leaders to impact their church and community. This mission is accomplished through regional training events held around North America, networking, professional development and advocacy.

Attendance: 10,000
Last/Current Convention: Orlando
Convention Dates: April 5–10, 2011
Venue: Orange County Convention Center
Hotels: Rosen Centre Hotel (Headquarters)
Room Nights: 7,225
Estimated Spending: $1.4 million
Headquarters: 3301 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, KS 66104
Next Convention: 2016
Website: baydaonline.org
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12.  OMEGA PSI PHI FRATERNITY – CENTENNIAL CONFERENCE

This is the first international fraternal organization to be founded on the campus of a historically Black college – Howard University in 1911. This fraternity has participated in numerous key events through American history including the fight for civil rights and social justice. Today, Omega Psi Phi has over 700 chapters throughout the United States, Bermuda, Virgin Islands, Korea, Japan, Liberia, Germany and Kuwait. Famous Omegas include Bill Cosby, Langston Hughes, Michael Jordan, Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey, Jesse Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal.

Attendance: 10,000
Last/Current Convention: Washington DC
Convention Dates: July 28–31, 2011
Venue: Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Hotels: Hyatt Regency Washington (Capitol Hill), Hyatt Regency Crystal City
Room Nights: 20,520
Estimated Economic Impact: $11.4 million
Headquarters: 3951 Snapfinger Parkway, Decatur, Georgia 30035
Phone: (404) 284-5533
Next Conclave: TBD
Planner: Dr. John Epps, Director
Website: omegapsiphifraternity.org
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13. PROGRESSIVE NATIONAL BAPTIST – 50TH 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 Baptists 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: 8,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Washington DC
Convention Dates: August 8–11, 2011
Venue/Hotel: Marriott Wardman Park
Room Nights: 10,600
Estimated Economic Impact: $9.1 million
Headquarters: 601 50th Street NE, Washington DC 20019
National President: Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore, Sr.
Phone: (202) 396-0558
Membership: 2.5 million
Next Convention: TBD
General Secretary: Dr. Walter Parrish III
Website: pnbc.org
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14. FULL GOSPEL BAPTIST CHURCH FELLOWSHIP 17TH ANNUAL 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: 8,000
Last/Current Convention: Atlanta
Convention Dates: June 29–July 1, 2011
Venue: Georgia World Congress Center
Host Hotel: Hyatt Regency Atlanta
Room nights: 5,631
Estimated Economic Impact: $5 million
Headquarters: 1691 Phoenix Blvd, Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30349
International Presiding Bishop: Paul S. Morton
Phone: (770) 907-9877
Next Convention: Atlanta
Dates: June 27-29, 2012
Website: fullgospelbaptist.org
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15. 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.

International Holy Convocation

Attendance: 8,000
Last/Current Convention: Baltimore
Convention Dates: July 10-17, 2011
Venue: Baltimore Convention Center
Hotels: Various Downtown Properties
Room Nights: 3,915
Estimated Economic Impact: $8.3 million
Next Convention: Greensboro, NC
Dates: July 18–22, 2012
Venue: Joseph Koury Convention Center
Hotel: Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons
Meeting Planner: Bishop William Wilkins, Jr.

International Congress

Attendance: 3,500
Last/Current Convention Location: Jacksonville
Convention Dates: April 27–30, 2011
Venue: Georgia International Convention Center
Hotels: Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront
Room Nights: 1,315
Estimated Economic Impact: $1.7 million
Headquarters: 2081 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd, New York, NY 10029
Phone: 212-926-0426
Chief Apostle: Bishop William Lee Bonner
Presiding Apostle: Bishop James I. Clark, Jr.
Next Convention: New Orleans
Convention Dates: April 11-14, 2012
Website: cooljc.org
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16. 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: Atlanta
Convention Dates: October 31–November 2, 2011
Venue: Georgia World Congress Center
Hotels: Hyatt Regency Atlanta and numerous others
Room Nights: 6,315
Economic Impact: $7.8 million
Headquarters: 1359 Broadway, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 944-2430
Next Convention: Denver
Dates: October 28–31, 2012
Venue: Colorado Convention Center
Website: nmsdc.org
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17. 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 ministries include: women, men, ushers, single people, 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: 6,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Orlando
Convention Dates: August 1–5, 2011
Venue/Hotels: Hilton Orlando
Room Nights: 8,100
Estimated Spending: $3.9 million
Headquarters: 3939 N. Meadows Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46205
Phone: (317) 547-9541
Presiding Bishop: Charles H. Ellis, III
Next Convention: New Orleans
Convention Dates: August 4–11, 2012
Venue: Morial Convention Center
Hotels: Hilton Riverside Hotel
Meeting Planner: Joyce Tyson-Walker, Diversity Communications
Website: pawinc.org
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18.  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
Last/Current Convention Location: Boston
Convention Dates: July 27 -31, 2011
Venue: Boston Convention and Exhibit Center
Hotels: Not Reported
Room Nights: Not Reported
Estimated Economic Impact: Not Reported
Headquarters: 120 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005
President and CEO: Marc Morial
Phone: (212) 558-5300
Membership: 2.5 million
Next Convention: New Orleans
Convention Dates: July 25–28, 2012
Venue: Morial Convention Center
Hotel: Hyatt Regency
Vice President Event Marketing: Michael Thompson
Website: nul.org
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19. AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH (AME)

This church was unique in that it’s the first major religious denomination in the Western World that had it origins over sociological and theological beliefs and differences. It rejected negative theological interpretations, which rendered persons of African descent second-class citizens. The church was born in protest against slavery. The AME church has multiple gatherings in any given year, some regional, others more national and international in scope. Here are a couple held in 2011.

Correctional Lay Organization Biennial

Attendance: 4,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Detroit
Convention Dates: August 12–18, 2011
Venue: Cobo Center
Hotels: Marriott and Renaissance Center
Room Nights: 3,612
Direct Spending: $2.1 million
Headquarters: 500 8th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: (615) 254-0911
Next Convention: TBD
Website: ame-church.com

Quadrennial Women’s Missionary Society

Attendance: 2,500
Last/Current Convention Location: Orlando
Convention Dates: July 23–30, 2011
Venue/Hotel: Orlando World Center Marriott
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20. 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: 4,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Washington DC
Convention Dates: July 23-27, 2011
Venue: Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Host Hotel: Grand Hyatt Washington and several other properties
Room Nights: 4,000
Economic Impact: $4.6 million
Headquarters: 8403 Colesville Road, Suite 920, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (202) 347-1895
President: Cedric M. Bright, M.D.
Membership: 30,000
Next Convention: New Orleans
Convention Dates:  July 27–31, 2012
Venue: Morial Convention Center
Hotel: Hilton Riverside
Director of Convention Services: Patricia Norman, CMP
Website: nmanet.org
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21. ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA SORORITY

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is America’s first Greek-letter organization founded in 1908, for African-American college women. Headquartered in Chicago, it is one of the world’s leading service organizations. There are over 975 chapters and 260,000 members in the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, Germany, Korea, Japan and Africa. Alpha Kappa Alpha holds multiple regional conferences throughout the year. A few of them are listed below.

Biennial International Conference

Next Convention Location: San Francisco – 2012
Projected Attendance: 10,000
International Headquarters: 5656 S. Stony Island Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 684-1282
International President: Carol House Stewart
Email: conferenceplanning@aka1908.com
Director of Meetings/Conferences: Janice Mardis Richards
Website: aka1908.com

North Atlantic Regional Conference

Attendance: 3,800
Last/Current Convention Location: Atlantic City
Convention Dates: April 6–10, 2011
Venue: Atlantic City Convention Center
Hotels: Trump Taj Mahal and Sheraton
Room Nights: 3,281
Direct Spending/Economic Impact: $2.9 million
Next Convention Location: TBD

Global Leadership Conference

Attendance: 2,700
Last/Current Convention Location: Atlanta
Convention Dates: July 13–17, 2011
Venue/Hotel: Hyatt Regency Atlanta
Room Nights: 3,197
Economic Impact: $1.3 million

South Eastern Regional Conference

Attendance: 2,600
Last/Current Convention: Birmingham
Convention Dates: March 10–13, 2011
Venue/Hotel: Sheraton Birmingham
Room Nights: 1,486
Economic Impact: $1.6 million
Planner: Juanita Doty
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22. AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH – WOMEN’S HOME AND OVERSEAS

The Women’s Home and Overseas gathering is one of many conventions and gatherings held by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church each and every year. The church services more than 1 million members. This is one of the oldest churches in the United States born just 20 years after the Declaration of Independence, chartered in 1801 and firmly established in 1820. The church is dedicated to religious, education, and social causes.

Attendance: 3,000
Last/Current Convention: Houston
Convention Dates: July 23–29, 2011
Venue: George R. Brown Convention Center
Hotel: Hilton Americas Houston
Room Nights: 8,494
Estimated Economic Impact: $2.9 million
Headquarters: Charlotte, NC
Multiple Events held throughout the year:
Website: amez.org
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23. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS – PEOPLE OF COLOR CONFERENCE

The People of Color Conference (PoCC) is part of the larger National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). NAIS is a non-profit organization that represents 1,400 independent schools and associations in the United States and internationally. The mission of the PoCC is to provide a safe place for networking and development opportunities for people of color in independent schools.

Attendance: 3,000
Last/Current Convention: Philadelphia
Convention Dates: November 29–December 4, 2011
Venue: Pennsylvania Convention Center
Room Nights: 5,825
Estimated Economic Impact: $8.6 million
Headquarters: 1620 L Street NW, Suite 1100, Washington DC 20036
Phone: (202) 973-9700
Next Event Location: TBD
Website: nais.org
Email: pocc@nais.org
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24. DELTA SIGMA THETA SORORITY

Twenty-two collegiate women at Howard University founded Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 1913. The sorority currently has over 900 chapters located in the United States, England, Japan, Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Republic of Korea. Their mission is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. The major programs of the sorority are based on a “Five Point Thrust” of: economic development; educational development; international awareness and involvement; physical and mental health; and political awareness and involvement. The Deltas hold their national conference bi-annually, but hold multiple regional gatherings all over the country. In 2011, those events were held in New York City, Atlantic City, St Louis, Memphis, Las Vegas, Rosemont, IL, Austin, and Charleston, SC. Below is the event held in Atlantic City.

Attendance: 2,500
Last/Current Convention Location: Atlantic City
Convention Dates: June 16–19, 2011
Venue: Atlantic City Convention Center
Hotels: Sheraton and Trump Taj Mahal
Room Nights: 2,100
Estimated Economic Impact: $1.3 million
National Headquarters: 1707 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20009
Phone: (202) 296-2400
National President: Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre
Membership: 200,000 (over 900 chapters)
Next Convention Location: TBD
Meeting Planner: Vida Smith
Special Note: Pitches are handled through local chapters to national office
Website: deltasigmatheta.org
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25. NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF BLACK SCHOOL EDUCATORS (NABSE) – 39TH 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: 2,500
Last/Current Convention Location: New Orleans
Convention Dates: November 16–19, 2011
Venue: Morial Convention Center
Hotels: Embassy Suites Hotel Convention Center, Hilton Riverside, Marriott at Convention Center
Room Nights: 6,035
Direct Spending: $2.9 million
Phone: (202) 608-6315
Headquarters: 310 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington DC 20003
President: Carrol A. Thomas, Jr.
Membership: 10,000
Next Convention: TBD
Meeting Planner: Quentin Lawson, Executive Director
Website: nabse.org
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IMPORTANT GATHERINGS OF NOTE
We’ve 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 (i)Essence(ei) magazine, this is the largest event celebrating African-American culture and achievement in the United States. 2011 proved to be another great year for the festival with over 250,000 attendees. Essence extended their relationship with the city through 2014. Based on previous years estimates the festival generates over $29 million in economic impact for New Orleans. In total over 75 hotels were used with nearly 30,000 room nights. 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 41st Annual Summer Celebration

This expo is one of the largest and most popular events in the country. Held in July, this expo traditionally attracts over 200,000 people using approximately 30,000 room nights with an estimated economic impact of over $20 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 some of the music worlds biggest stars in hip-hop, Gospel, R & B and old school.

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 11th year this reunion celebration was held in Orlando, FL August 29 through September 2, attracting over 5,000 people with 6,000 room nights according to the Orlando CVB. The projected economic impact was over $5.5 million. The host hotel for 2011 was the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. Other venues used include: SeaWorld and Universal Orlando. This year’s attendees include Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Levert and Brian McKnight. Past performers include Al Green, Earth Wind & Fire, and D. L. Hughley. 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.

African Black Film Festival

The African Black Film Festival (ABFF) is held annually at the Ritz-Carlton on Miami’s South Beach. According to organizers this year’s event held in early July attracted over 5,000 guests. This is world’s largest film festival dedicated to African-American filmmakers. Now in its 15th year, the ABFF attracts some of the industries top directorial, acting and producing talent.

The National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners

This is the preeminent organization for African-American meeting planners. They hold several conferences throughout they year. Their next event is the Fall Educational Conference to be held in Las Vegas, November 15 – 20, 2011. Over 500 people are expected to attend the premiere event for CVBs, hoteliers and others looking to network with African-American meeting planners.

Black College Football

Black College Football is a major draw for our Historically Black Colleges. These games are more than just a gridiron heavy weight bout. They are events in and of themselves that over several days that includes great food, dance, battles of the bands and so much more. One of the larger events is the Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic run by 100 Black Men of America’s Atlanta Chapter featuring two HBCUs. Sixty-five thousand people head to the Georgia Dome for the game. The most recent game’s economic impact on Atlanta was approximately $26 million and 2,349 total room nights.

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

National Brotherhood of Skiers
The Links, Inc (multiple events)
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
100 Black Men of America
Coalition of Black Trade Unionist
General Grand Masonic Congress
National Black Nurses Association – Annual Conference
National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers
Tuskegee Airman National Conference
Sigma Gamma Rho
National Association of Real Estate Brokers
National Association of Black Journalist
National Association of Black Accountants
Church of Christ National Crusade
National Bar Association
Improved Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks of the World (IBPOEW)
ASM Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students
National Bowling Association
Black Enterprise

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