Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: January/February 2013
The 25 Largest African-American Conventions Of 2012
By: Michael Bennett

What a year for African-American meetings and conventions. Attendance is up across the board and all signs point to an even better 2013. After years of steady decline followed by a bumpy recovery, 2012 was a welcome relief.

Meetings and conventions are the lifeblood for many in the African-American community. Even during tough economic times we found a way to affirm or reaffirm our faith in the “All Mighty” or enjoy the networking opportunities and career building of attending professional conferences.

The growing confidence in our economy and rise in employment, while uneven certainly appears to be providing the impetus for many to hit the road once again. One can only hope our wounded economy continues to heal.

Before we get into the findings, Black Meetings and Tourism would like to thank all of our convention and visitor bureau partners for their timely response to our information request. Without our CVB friends we would not be able to pass on this valuable information.

Like previous years our religious faith paved the way in terms of overall attendance at meetings and conventions. Half of the top 10 gatherings were faith-based groups such as Church of God in Christ, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Church of our Lord Jesus Christ and a couple of events held by Bishop T.D. Jakes. In total over 200,000 people attended religious events from our Top 25. When you factor in the hundreds of events with less than 1,000 attendees it’s no small wonder that many destinations are clamoring for this business.

On the professional front the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) convention held in Pittsburgh attracted over 9,500 attendees. As a sign of an improving economy, Pittsburgh reported that Alcoa hired nearly 30 NSBE attendees.

Over 8,800 members attended The National Black MBA’s in Indianapolis. Overall it was a very good year for most professional associations. Fraternities and sororities, a big part of the African-American market, held numerous events that attracted thousands. For example, Alpha Kappa Alpha had events in Sacramento, Detroit and several regions across the country. Virtually all fraternities and sororities hold regional events on an annual basis that are well worth your efforts to explore for future business opportunities. Groups in this category typically represent upwardly mobile and affluent African-Americans.

Civil rights and economic development groups such as the NAACP, the National Urban League and the Congressional Black Caucus continue to populate our list. And finally, while we don’t mention them in our top 25, sports and entertainment is a huge draw. The Essence Music Festival held in New Orleans and the Indiana Black Expo both drew upwards of 90,000 people.

HBCU college football events and the week leading up to these games are a tradition in the African-American community. These games are an economic windfall for the communities that host these events. Some events, such as basketball tournaments change locations and could be a good opportunity for CVBs willing to submit a bid. Some of the larger sports and entertainment events are listed in the sidebar to this story.

Another trend that appears to be growing in significance is the choice of city. While New Orleans, Atlanta, Orlando, Nashville, Los Angeles and St. Louis continue as the destinations of choice for everyone, what we traditionally have called second-tier cities such as Greensboro, Charlotte, Seattle, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are making their mark. These cities have all the amenities of their big city brethren at a significant cost savings. It’s a trend we don’t see changing in the near future, especially for religious organizations.

Looking to 2013, many of the cities mentioned here along with Phoenix, Detroit, Houston, Baltimore and Washington DC appear poised to take advantage of meetings and conventions opportunities.  The National Medical Association will be headed north of the border to the city of Toronto in 2013. For those of you who haven’t visited, Toronto is a top-tier meeting destination with more great hotels and meeting venues than most American cities.

Another sidebar to this story is our list of events with 1,000 or more attendees. While we won’t pretend that we’ve captured an all-inclusive list, many of these gatherings could be equally as beneficial in terms of direct spending and economic impact as those in the top 25. The list is a blend of top-tier professional organizations, religions gatherings and business conferences. Many of these events appear in our top 25 in previous years.

While large gatherings typically use convention centers or sports venues, one option that continually appears on our list is the Gaylord properties in Nashville, Orlando and National Harbor (Washington DC). The convenience of having an all in one venue/hotel has proven especially appealing for all groups.

It is well known by many in our industry that African-Americans typically spend a few extra days in a particular city following their event to explore or bring their families for a small vacation. This is separate than post or pre-convention events organized by the meeting planners, so please be aware of this opportunity to grow your business.

Here is our disclaimer. The attendance and financial figures provided come from the CVBs. Some are direct spending, some economic impact or projected economic impact. The information provided in this article is a guide only and we strongly urge everyone to perform their own due diligence when submitting proposals for any current or future business.


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.

105th Holy Convocation

Attendance: 35,000
Location: St Louis
Convention Dates: November 5- 9, 2012
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: 25,000 (15,000 out of town – 10,000 locals)
Last/Current Convention Location: Birmingham
Convention Dates: July 2-6, 2012
Venue: Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex
Hotels: Sheraton Birmingham
Room Nights: 6,350
Estimated Economic Impact: $23.1 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: Baltimore
Next Convention Dates: July 1-5, 2013
Meeting Planner: AIM Chairman---J Drew. Sheard

Annual Women’s International Convention and Crusade

Attendance: 15,000
Last/Current Convention: Atlanta
Convention Dates: May 28 – June 1, 2012
Venue: Georgia World Congress Center
Hotels: Numerous
Room Nights: Not Reported
Estimated Economic Impact: Unknown

Leadership Conference

Attendance: 2,000
Last/Current Convention: Sacramento
Convention Dates: January 16-19, 2012
Venue: Sacramento Convention Center
Room Nights: 2,525
Estimated Economic Impact: $1.1 million


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 107th National Baptist Congress of Christian Education

Attendance: 20,000
Last/Current Convention Location: St Louis
Convention Dates: June 15-23, 2012
Venues: Americas Center
Hotel: Renaissance Grand
Room Nights: 12,118
Estimated Economic Impact: $16.8 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 17-21, 2013
Venue: America’s Center

132nd Annual National Baptist Convention

Attendance: 22,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Atlanta
Convention Dates: September 3–9, 2012
Venue: Georgia World Congress Center
Hotels: Omni, Marriott Marquis, Embassy Suites, Hyatt Regency and numerous others
Room Nights: Unknown
Estimated Economic Impact: $10.8 million
Headquarters: 1700 Baptist World Center Drive, Nashville, TN 37207
President: Dr. Julius R. Scruggs
Membership: 7.5 million
Next Convention Location: Charlotte (2013), New Orleans (2014_
Convention Dates: September 2-6, 2013


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.

Attendance: 15,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Nashville
Convention Dates: June 27 – July 4, 2012
Venue/Hotel: Gaylord Opryland
Room Nights: 25,000
Direct Spending: Not Calculated
Headquarters: 500 8th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: (615) 254-0911
General Secretary: Jeffrey B. Cooper
Next Convention: TBD


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.

Manpower Men’s Conference

Attendance: 10,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Dallas
Convention Dates: August 9-11, 2012
Venue: Potter’s House Event Center
Hotels: Hilton Garden Inn, Omni Mandalay, Hyatt Regency, Sheraton Dallas
Room Nights: 887
Estimated Economic Impact: $2.9 million
Mailing Address: T.D. Jakes Ministries, Inc. P.O. Box 5390, Dallas, TX 75208
Phone: (800) BISHOP2

Pastor Retreat

Attendance: 9,000
Last/Current Event Location: Orlando
Convention Dates: May 1-2, 2012
Venue/Hotel: Peabody Orlando
Room Nights: 4,819
Estimated Spending: $7.7 million


The church started in 1919, under the guidance of Bishop Robert C. Lawson, in New York City. The church quickly outdrew 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: 10,000
Last/Current Convention: Greensboro, NC
Convention Dates: July 18-23, 2012
Venue: Joseph Koury Convention Center
Venue/Hotels: Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons
Room Nights: 3,904
Estimated Economic Impact: $11.1 million
Next Convention: Detroit
Dates: July 24-28, 2013
Venue/Hotel: Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Hotel
Meeting Planner: Bishop William Wilkins, Jr.

International Congress Youth Convention

Attendance: 2,500
Last/Current Convention Location: New Orleans
Convention Dates: April 8-14, 2012
Venue/Hotel: Hyatt Regency
Room Nights: 1,224
Estimated Economic Impact: $2.9 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, 2013


Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is America’s first Greek-letter organization found 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 along with a short list of 2013 events.

Biennial International Conference

Projected Attendance: 10,000
Last/Current Convention: San Francisco
Convention Dates: July 21-26, 2012
Venue: Moscone Convention Center
Room Nights: Unknown
Economic Impact: Unknown
International Headquarters: 5656 S. Stony Island Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 684-1282
International President: Carol House Stewart
Director of Meetings/Conferences: Janice Mardis Richards

Great Lakes Regional Meeting
Attendance: 1,200
Last/Current Convention: Detroit
Convention Dates: April 12-15, 2012
Venue/Hotel: Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center
Room Nights: 1,471
Estimated Direct Spending: $1.1 million

South Central Regional Conference

Attendance: 3,200
Last/Current Convention: Houston
Convention Dates: March 22-25, 2012
Venue & Hotel: Hilton Americas Houston

Up Coming 2013 Conferences

South Eastern Regional: Memphis
Midwest Regional: Tulsa
South Central Regional: New Orleans
84th Far Western Regional: Los Angeles
60th Mid-Atlantic Regional: Winston Salem, NC
79th Central Regional: Indianapolis
82nd North Atlantic Regional: Philadelphia
60th South Atlantic Regional: Charleston, SC
82 Great Lakes Regional: Rochester, NY


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: 9,525
Last/Current Convention Location: Pittsburgh
Convention Dates: March 28 – April 1, 2012
Venue: David L. Lawrence Convention Center
Hotels: Westin and numerous other properties
Room Nights: 14,270
Direct Spending: $13.6 million
Headquarters: 205 Dangerfield Road, Alexandria, VA 22314
National Chairperson: Calvin Allen Young III
Phone: (703) 549-2207
Membership: 20,000
Next Convention: Indianapolis
Dates: March 27 – 31, 2013
Conference Planning Committee Chair: Whitney Gaskins


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: 9,000
Last/Current Convention: Atlanta
Convention Dates: June 27-29, 2012
Venue: Georgia World Congress Center
Host Hotel: Hyatt Regency Atlanta
Room nights: Not Reported
Estimated Economic Impact: $5.7 million
Headquarters: 1691 Phoenix Blvd, Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30349
International Presiding Bishop Paul S. Morton
Phone: (770) 907-9877
Next Convention: Louisville
Dates: July 3-5, 2013
Venue: Kentucky International Convention Center


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: 8,870
Last/Current Convention Location: Indianapolis
Convention Dates: September 25-29, 2012
Venue: Indiana Convention Center
Hotels: 13 area hotels
Room Nights: 10,438
Estimated Economic Impact: $2.6 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: Houston
Convention Dates: September 10-14, 2013


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: 8,100
Last/Current Convention Location: Houston
Convention Dates: July 5 – 13, 2012
Venue: George R. Brown Convention Center
Hotels: Hilton Americas Houston
Room Nights: 8151
Estimated Economic Impact: $7.8 million
Headquarters: 4805 Mt. Hope Dr., Baltimore, MD 21215
Chairman: Julian Bond
President: Benjamin Jealous
Phone: (410) 580-5780
Membership: 300,000+
Next Convention: Orlando
Dates: July 13 - 17, 2013
Meeting Planner: Ana Aponte-Curtis


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: Denver
Convention Dates: October 28-31, 2012
Venue: Colorado Convention Center
Hotels: Hyatt Regency at Colorado Convention Center
Room Nights: 5,535
Economic Impact: $13.9 million
Headquarters: 1359 Broadway, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 944-2430
Next Convention: San Antonio
Dates: October 27-30, 2013
Venue: Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center


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: 6,000
Last/Current Convention: New Orleans
Convention Dates: August 17-23, 2012
Venue: Morial Convention Center
Hotels: Marriott, Sheraton
Room Nights: 22,536
Estimated Economic Impact: $7 million
Headquarters: 2239 Democrat Road, Memphis, TN 38132
Phone: (901) 395-0150
Leader: Donald Parks, Imperial Potentate
Next Convention: Phoenix
Dates: August 16 – 23, 2013
Convention Director: Donald Parks


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, 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: 6,000
Last/Current Convention Location: New Orleans
Convention Dates: August 4-11, 2012
Venue/Hotels: Hilton New Orleans Hotel
Room Nights: 7,250
Estimated Economic Impact: $7 million
Headquarters: 3939 N. Meadows Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46205
Phone: (317) 547-9541
Presiding Bishop: Charles H. Ellis, III
Next Convention: Indianapolis
Convention Dates: July 28 – August 3, 2013
Venue/Hotel: J.W. Marriott Hotel
Meeting Planner: Joyce Tyson-Walker, Diversity Communications


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
Last/Current Convention Location: New Orleans
Convention Dates: July 27-31, 2012
Venue: Morial Convention Center
Host Hotel: Hilton Riverside & Sheraton New Orleans
Room Nights: 8,555
Estimated Economic Impact: $5.9 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: Toronto
Convention Dates: July 27-31, 2013


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: 5,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Detroit
Convention Dates: August 13-16, 2012
Venue: Cobo Center
Hotels: Detroit Marriott at Renaissance Center
Room Nights: 10,362
Estimated Direct Spending: $5.9 million
Headquarters: 3005 Georgia Ave., NW, Washington DC 20001
National President: J. David Reeves
Phone: (202) 667-3280
Membership: 8,000
Next Convention: Dallas
Dates: August 19-22, 2013


The R.H. Boyd Publishing Company began in 1896 and has flourished into an internationally recognized producer of Christian education materials. In addition to their own national convention, R.H. Boyd participates in numerous conventions such as the National Baptist Convention and the Gospel Music Workshop of America. Over 100 years later the R.H. Boyd name is an internationally recognized brand, all started through the vision of a former slave.

Attendance: 5,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Detroit
Convention Dates: June 8 – 17, 2012
Venue: Cobo Center
Host Hotel: Detroit Marriott at Renaissance Center
Room Nights: 4,750
Estimate Direct Spending: $5.1 million
Congress President: Dr. T.B. Boyd, III
Headquarters Mailing Address: P.O. Box 91145, Nashville, TN 37209-1145
Phone: (615) 350-8000
Next Convention: Phoenix
Dates: June 9-14, 2013


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.

Estimated Attendance: 4,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Memphis
Convention Dates: August 5-10, 2012
Venue: Memphis Cook Convention Center
Venue/Hotel: Marriott Wardman Park
Room Nights; Unknown
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: Detroit
Convention Dates: August 4-10, 2013
General Secretary: Dr. Walter Parrish III


The African-American Episcopal Zion Church was founded in 1796. Along with its emphasis and ministry here in the United States, the denomination has member churches on every continent except Australia. The church has a particular footprint in the West African countries of Ghana and Nigeria where they have set up clinics and schools. While the general conference is held every four years several states have annual conference attended by thousands from California to North Carolina.

Attendance: 3,700
Last/Current Convention: Charlotte
Convention Dates: July 18-24, 2012
Venue: Charlotte Convention Center
Host Hotel: The Westin Charlotte
Room Nights: 6,820
Estimated Economic Impact: $6.1 million
National Headquarters: 3225 Sugar Creek Road, Charlotte, NC 28269
Next Convention: TBD


The Links, Incorporated, founded in 1946, is one of the oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of women committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African-Americans and persons of African ancestry. The Links, Inc. has a membership of more than 12,000 professional women of color serving in 274 chapters in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and the Bahamas. Through its philanthropic arm, The Links Foundation, Incorporated, the organization has contributed more than $25 million to charitable causes since its’ founding. During this biennium, Links contributed 1.2 million documented service hours assisting communities throughout the United States, Africa and other developing countries.

Attendance: 3,300
Last/Current Convention: Orlando
Convention Dates: June 18 – July 4, 2012
Venue: Rosen Shingle Creek
Room Nights: 5,868
Estimated Spending: $2.8 million
Headquarters: 1200 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC, 20005
Phone: (202) 842-8686
National President: Margot James Copeland
Membership: 12,000
Next Convention: TBD


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: 3,275
Last/Current Convention: Houston
Convention Dates: December 6-8, 2012
Venue: George R. Brown Convention Center
Room Nights: 4,677
Direct Visitor Impact: $3.2 million
Headquarters: 1620 L Street NW, Suite 1100, Washington DC 20036
Phone: (202) 973-9700
Next Event Location: Washington DC
Venue: Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center National Harbor
Dates: December 5-7, 2013


This organization is comprised of member organizations representing African-American Roman Catholics working in collaboration with the National Roman Catholic organizations. The group establishes an agenda for the evangelizations of African-Americans and to improve the mental, spiritual and physical conditions of African-Americans.

Attendance: 3,000
Last/Current Convention: Indianapolis
Convention Dates: July 19-22, 2012
Venue/Hotel: JW Marriott
Room Nights: 2,760
Estimated Economic Impact: $2.6 million
Headquarters: 320 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201


The NABSE is the nation’s premier non-profit organization devoted to furthering the academic success primarily of children of African descent. 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: 3,000
Last/Current Convention Location: Nashville
Convention Dates: November 14-18, 2012
Venue/Hotel: Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention
Room Nights: 8,000
Direct Spending: Not Calculated
Phone: (202) 608-6315
Headquarters: 310 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington DC 20003
President: Carrol A. Thomas, Jr.
Membership: 10,000
Next Convention: Detroit
Meeting Planner: Quentin Lawson, Executive Director


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: 2,500
Last/Current Convention Location: New Orleans
Convention Dates: July 25 – 28, 2012
Venue: Morial Convention Center
Hotels: Hyatt Regency
Room Nights: 6060
Estimated Economic Impact: $2.9 million
Headquarters: 120 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005
President and CEO: Marc Morial
Phone: (212) 558-5300
Membership: 2.5 million
Next Convention: Philadelphia
Convention Dates: July 24-27, 2013
Venue: Pennsylvania Convention Center
Vice President Event Marketing: Michael Thompson


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: 2,500
Last/Current Convention: Minneapolis
Convention Dates: July 5 – 12, 2012
Venue: Minneapolis Convention Center
Hotels: Hilton
Room Nights: 5,000
Estimated Economic Impact: $2.8 million
Headquarters: 3951 Snapfinger Parkway, Decatur, Georgia 30035
Phone: (404) 284-5533
Next Conclave: TBD
Planner: Dr. John Epps, Director


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: 1,300
Last/Current Convention Location: Nashville
Convention Dates: July 7-13, 2012
Venue/Hotel: Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
Room Nights: 5,000 (Projected)
Economic Impact: Not Calculated
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 20-26, 2013
Venue: Duke Energy Convention Center

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.


Sponsored by Essence magazine, this is the largest event celebrating African-American culture and achievement in the United States. 2012 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 $170 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.


This expo is one of the largest and most popular events in the country. Held in July, the 2012 expo attracted over 88,000 people with an estimated economic impact of over $44 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 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


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. The 2012 event featured over 4,220 room nights using the host Grand Hyatt Washington and numerous properties in and around Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.


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 30 through September 2, attracting over 5,000 people with 5,850 room nights according to the Orlando CVB. The projected economic impact was over $6.6 million. The host hotel for 2012 was the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. Other venues used include: SeaWorld and Universal Orlando. Past 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.


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. The ABFF attracts some of the industries top directorial, acting and producing talent.


This is the preeminent organization for African-American meeting planners. They hold several conferences throughout they year. The 2012 Fall Educational Conference was held in Atlanta, November 28 – December 1, 2012. Over 500 people are expected to attend the premiere event for CVB’s, hoteliers and others looking to network with African-American meeting planners.


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. Economic impact for the city of Atlanta is between $25 and $30 million annually with approximately 2,500 total room nights.


The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association was founded in 1912 as the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association and is the oldest African-American athletic conference in the country. The hold numerous sporting events throughout the year including this tournament held in 2012 in Charlotte, February 27- March 3. This tournament generated 46,858 room nights with direct spending of over $32 million resulting in total economic output of over $50 million.


National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
100 Black Men of America
Delta Sigma Theta (Biannual)
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 Entrepreneurs Conference
The Association for the Study of African-American Life and History
National United Church Ushers Association of America
The Florida General Baptist Convention Congress of Christian Education
Go Tell It Ministry, Inc.
United Holy Church of America
Knights of Peter Claver
National Funeral Directors Association