The unemployment rates for African Americans by gender, education, and age are much higher today than those of whites, and these unemployment rates for African Americans rose much faster than those for comparable groups of whites during and after the Great Recession. Black women have traditionally faced many barriers to employment, something that Dr. Richard Harris knows much about as he helps to organize the 8th annual Black Women's Business Expo and Job Fair.
“Our goals for the event are what they are every year — to help women get employment,” says Harris, president and CEO of the Genesis Enterprise Center (GEC) a collaborative effort to create an institution for economic empowerment on the city's south side. “We want to provide a mechanism where black women can find employment. Black women have a double whammy — sex and race. They feel frustrated and they feel left out. We want to deal with that. We want to answer that problem. We want to give these women some hope and let them know there are jobs out there.”
The 8th annual Black Women's Business Expo and Job Fair is set for Saturday, Nov. 2, 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m., at the Genesis Enterprise Center and will focus on issues that face Black women.
“This will be one of our most important Black Women's Business Expo and Job Fairs. We will have Dane County Job Service coming. They have access to brand-new fresh jobs,” says Harris. “The Dane County Job Service can be such a great asset, but so many black women don't know about them.”
In addition to the Dane County Job Service, Madison Gas & Electric, State Farm Insurance, Larry Sain Insurance, Park Bank, UW Credit Union, Unity Health Insurance, and Thomas Law Office will also be at the Expo helping women to find jobs. The expo is a great place for black women to discuss employment-related issues that are particularly relevant to their needs and interests.
“We've helped 67 women find employment in our last seven years and we have helped a few women get mortgages,” Harris says.
This year's Black Women's Business Expo and Job Fair will place an emphasis on topics including health, finance, and employment. At lunchtime, there will be a special awards presentation to honor Linda Hoskins, president of the Madison Branch of the NAACP and Sadie Mae Pearson, a long-time South Madison social activist.
“Linda Hoskins has done a tremendous job in advocating for civil rights in Madison,” Harris says. “Sadie Pearson has lived on Center Street for over 51 years and has been an inspiration to a lot of women over the years. Her home has been a home away from home for a lot of women who have been homeless. She's been a strong advocate over the years.”
Lunch will be provided by Melly Mel's and will include fried catfish and chicken, greens, cornbread, and peach cobbler.
“There are a lot of jobs out there but the problem is oftentimes many black women that we know don't have a computer or have troubling accessing these jobs,” Harris says. “Most of the jobs you can easily access online. We want to really help these women access the Internet so that they can apply for these jobs. That will be a big part of this expo.”
Networking can be so important in getting a job and that will be another focus of the expo and job fair. “This will be an important resource for black women and we will be discussing how to network,” Harris says. “That's so important. It's something that the Black Women's Business Expo and Job Fair will be able to provide. And even after the women leave the expo, we will do follow up with them and keep tabs on them.”
The 8th annual Black Women's Business Expo and Job Fair is set for Saturday, Nov. 2, 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m., at the Genesis Enterprise Center, 313 W. Beltline Highway. Tickets for the event are $10. There are some reduced priced tickets available. For more information, call Dr. Richard Harris at 255-5842.