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Black Women’s Expo Kicks Off in Chicago, Honors Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland (BBC)

Sandra Bland (BBC)

The Black Women’s Expo kicked off in Chicago this past Tuesday, and the late Sandra Bland was honored during an awards ceremony.

The theme of the 22nd annual Black Women’s Expo was #SheMatters, a name inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Held at McCormick Place in Chicago April 8-10, the event featured town halls, workshops, entertainment and seminars attracting businesses that target Black consumers. Topics covered included finance and entrepreneurship along with health and wellness, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

The Phenomenal Woman Awards Gala began the expo. The inaugural #SheMatters award was awarded to Bland posthumously. Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland’s mother, accepted the award on the Illinois native’s behalf, according to ABC 7.

Atlanta Black Star reports Bland was the victim of police brutality in July 2014 when she was pulled over near Houston for an illegal lane change. She was traveling to Texas for a job interview when state trooper Brian Encinia violently dragged her out of her car after she refused to comply with his orders. The incident was caught on dashcam video, and footage of Bland’s death by hanging was also recorded on surveillance.

It’s fitting, then, that the inspiration for the expo’s theme is taken from the movement meant to bring awareness to Black victims of police brutality.

According to the event website, the Black Women’s Expo is the longest-running exposition of its kind. It began in Chicago, and visitors from 14 states around the country have attended.

The expo will also make stops in two other cities. BWE will be in Washington, D.C., in September at the Washington Convention Center. The tour ends in Atlanta on Oct. 7 -9 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

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