“Let’s just stop wondering where the talent is and go make it where the talent exists,” Lockhart said. “And I think that’s always been the ambition, not just another date on the calendar for someone to attend an event. It’s really about changing the way we value our talent and presenting a place where we exist and can be seen and sought after. ”
The symposium is designed to emphasize the acquisition of black talent, the development of career-seeking students and the promotion of networking with each other. When looking for potential host cities, they knew that the inaugural symposium was to take place in a city known for its culture.
“To do it right, I had to be in Atlanta,” Gibson said. “It was supposed to be in a place that many consider soft for black professionals, wasn’t it?” For blacks. And if we were to deploy that, we would do it the right way. “
As a thriving sports city with four HBCUs in the city, Atlanta was the first to come to mind when deciding where to host the inaugural symposium, especially after Falcons and Atlanta United owner Arthur Blanc offered his stadium as a venue.
“I mean, Arthur Blanc and the Falcons offered their stadium,” Witch said. “They could have a Taylor Swift concert here, they could have a significant source of revenue at this stadium; but for three days we were allowed to use this beautiful facility for a purposeful event. And that is to help keep young people of color in the pipeline to find work or to improve the opportunities they currently have. It was a huge deal to make that happen. “
After two years of planning and marketing, this weekend the symposium shifted from a dream to a reality when organizers welcomed thousands from across the United States to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The three-day symposium, which began on Thursday, hosted opportunities for participants to speak with representatives of companies looking for black talent. Students and professionals were also encouraged to participate in many training sessions with well-known lecturers and members of the business community, who led discussions about competition and fairness in the sports business.
Along with speakers from other parts of the nation, Atlanta was well represented on the stage as Dream broadcaster LaChina Robinson, Dream private owner and vice president Renee Montgomery, Falcons CEO Rich McKay, nine-time Dominique Wilkins and NBA star president and president. Morehouse David Thomas all participated in speaking and teaching.
Perhaps the most famous and anticipated speaker at the symposium was Day 1 headliner Deion Sanders, Jackson State football coach.
Enjoying his return home to Atlanta, where he played with the Falcons from 1989-93 and the Braves from 1991-94, Sanders ended the first day with a one-hour announcement of his career and coaching career.
Sanders began his conversation, moderated by Witch, expressing his gratitude to the city of Atlanta, explaining that black culture here attracted him to want to become a Falcon at the beginning of his football career. Concluding his time with questions and answers, he discussed his role at Jackson State and his experience at his HBCU.
Thanks to its first stop in Atlanta, the wait was worth it, as the Black Sports Business Symposium looks set to continue to shed light on the importance of diversifying the sports industry.
“I don’t care if it was five or five million (attended),” Gibson said. “Success is not determined by the number of people who show up. This is determined by the impact that has been exerted, and based only on the responses we receive, the two years of planning have been worth more than that. “