After having countless spirited debates with his friends about the age-old PWI (predominantly white institutions) and HBCU (historically Black colleges and universities) rivalry, Jonathan King and two of his peers decided to put their money where their mouths were, literally.
“We got tired of feeding into that invisible divide that exists between those that attended an HBCU and others that went to a PWI,” the Norfolk University graduate said. “In 2014 we came up with the idea to create the Black Alumni Networking Expo, a fundraiser designed to bring together individuals from all walks of life for one purpose:the collective celebration of the Black graduates.”
The expo was such a success that Jonathan and his team decided to expand the event into an annual gala with the fundraising component still at its center.
Now in its fifth year, the Black Alumni Ball (BAB) is gearing up to be a powerful evening of celebration with more than 1,000 Black Alumni on August 10, 2019. The ball will be held from 8 PM-2 AM at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. It will be hosted by The Massive Host, King Flexxa, with the soundtrack being provided by Nate Hopp and Jerome Baker III and LIVE entertainment will be delivered by Johnny Graham & the Groove. In addition, the VIP reception will be sponsored by Hennessy.
But, the planning of the massive event did not come without its challenges, especially since BAB is planning to expand nationally. Jonathan said it’s been an interesting growth journey thus far.
“One of the reasons that this event is so special is because it’s owned by us,” he said, referring to the African American community. “With that being said, having that ownership means it’s very difficult because you don’t have investor capitalist backing to cover unanticipated costs; when you grow, you don’t have the same amount of delicate time that you had when you were only doing one event a year.”
But he has learned the key to scaling up, ironically enough, is to keep it simple.
“The solution is to take the same blueprint and apply everywhere,” he said. “The same things that worked when we had half the patronage, a fifth of the budget and less expectations still apply now.”
He also says that the key to success is working with the right people.
“Like for instance, part of the reason I decided to work with Eventnoire is because there was a disproportion in event platforms and the majority were not owned by people of color. Being that our mission is to uplift, unify, and advance our culture we chose to choose a platform that was owned by us with the hope to grow together and gain more awareness to the platform.
In addition to the exciting news of expansion, the BAB also added an innovative way to raise amplify attendee visibility and awareness of the brand. Last year, the BAB team debuted the Inaugural class of their Influencer program with 15 dynamic individuals who are shining examples of being a game changer, an individual who is shifting the culture and being an example of excellence.This year, the class will grow with the addition of 17, with the official announcement of the names being released this month.
“We’re so excited to see yet another year in the city that has been so good to us,” he said. “We can’t wait to continue to celebrate Black excellence in the name of harmony, unity and forward all while in our finest garb.”
Thanks to Jon and team for using Eventnoire.com as their ticketing platform of choice for the Black Alumni Ball two years now. To find out more about the event, visit www.blackalumniball.com.
Black Alumni Ball Curators Denaz Green Jr, Jonathan King, & Britt Wright pictured above along with pictures from last year’s Black Alumni Ball