The Sage Restaurant was abuzz Friday night with Tennessee Regional Black Millennial Convention members, who came out to meet and greet each other in the kickoff of Memphis’ first gathering of the organization.
The convention — dubbed the “Black Millennials Unbossed & Unapologetic Summit” — was designed to shift into high gear at the National Civil Rights Museum on Saturday.
Timothy Green, who is on the planning committee and a member of the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals, said more people had registered for the event than anticipated.
“Our original plan was to have about 75 millennials to show up for the event. We actually have over 100 registered for tomorrow (Saturday), so that’s amazing,” he said.
“The purposed of the convention is to bring a lot of millennials together…to kind of work on some things for the future for us. Not just Memphis, but in the Mid-South as well. So on the panels …we also have some millennials from Mississippi to come in to talk about some things that are important to millennials.”
LaTricea Adams, the organizer for the convention in Memphis, said she was inspired by a millennial convention she attended in Washington, D.C. last spring.
“I was so impressed. I was able to gather a group of fellow millennials here in Memphis and that’s kind of how everything got started,” she said. “We were optimistic that it would be 125 ( people) but to be honest it was kind of slow in the beginning. …We definitely are excited about the turnout that we’ve had.”
Adams said often millennials are not taken seriously when it comes to politics and community issues. She hopes conventions such as the Memphis gathering will change that mindset.
State Rep. London Lamar (D-Memphis), a panelist, was among the early arrivals who came out to mingle at the Sage Restaurant.
“What I think about this effort is that it is paramount in moving the millennial generation forward and our influence forward in our communities and in the political system,” she said. “We have to come together and have discussions like this, about what messages we want to convey, what issues we want to tackle and really have some influence in the political system.”
Politics, Lamar said, is not the only area where millennials can make a difference.
“That means… the non-profit directors, that means all of those who are working on the ground to educate people about this process. …Millennials are the largest base of eligible voters in this country. We are also the largest economic base in this country. …
“Not only do our dollars matter, but our votes matter,” Lamar said. “In order for us to use this influence that we have, we have to come together and build that unity and build a message and talk about the issues and mobilize our people to vote. …
“The fact that we can do this in Memphis shows that young people are starting to rise up and take their place in politics,” said Lamar, who at 28 is one of the youngest members of the Tennessee General Assembly.
The first Black Millennial Convention was held in Washington, D, in 2018. Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer and Adams received attended and received inaugural wards for their commitment to community organizing and political advocacy. Adams is CEO and president of Black Millennials for Flint.
Panel discussions Saturday featured topics such as as “Modern Education and the new Jim Crow;” “The Dos and Don’ts of Running for Public Office” and “Sparking Revolutionary Movements Through Intersectional Organizing.”
A post-convention after party and reception was set for 1524 Madison Saturday evening.
(For more details on the Tennessee Regional Black Millennial Convention, visit blackmillennialconvention.com.)