N.C. Central University held their first “I’m Every Woman” exposition and symposium last Wednesday afternoon in the Alfonso Elder Student Union.
The event, hosted primarily by NCCU’s Women’s Center, invited small woman-run businesses and organizations from around the Triangle to sell their wares to attendees, which included NCCU students and black female professionals alike.
The expo section of the event, which lasted from 3 to 6 p.m., promoted one of the center’s major goals: ot help women flourish in both their personal and professional lives. Items sold included clothing, jewelry and body creams and lotions.
After the expo finished, it was time for the symposium to begin.
Dr. Yaba Blay, current Dan Blue Endowed Chair of NCCU’s political science department and creator of the Professional Black Girl brand, hosted the panel discussion. Dr. Blay was a fitting choice — her brand, which has also been transformed into a YouTube series where professional black women provide commentary on an array of issues they face, focuses on acknowledging the inaccuracy in the idea that black women cannot acknowledge and participate in their culture while being professional at the same time.
Blay has also been featured by many notable news outlets including BET, NPR, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Ebony Magazine.
Following her introduction, Blay introduced the panelists who would be participating in the discussion about “Winning as a Professional Black Girl.”
Those panelists were associate professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Louisville Dr. Kaila Story, assistant city solicitor of the City of Philadelphia Laquan T. Lightfoot, national accounts manager at GE Appliances Dr. Charlette Fairchild and Democracy North Carolina training director Omisade Burney-Scott.
The discussion began with focuses on the topics of authenticity within one’s chosen field, issues that black women face within professional settings, the importance of sisterhood, the significance of self-love and colorism within both the black and international communities. Each panelist shed their own distinct light on each topic from a place of wisdom.
One quote that seemed to resonate with those in attendance was from Dr. Blay on seeking advice from other professionals: “Don’t ask people for directions if they’ve never been where you are going.”
Along with the leadership of the Women’s Center staff and volunteers, NCCU’s first (but hopefully not last) “I’m Every Woman” Expo and Symposium was an inspiring and informative event for future professional black girls.