Courtesy City Foundry
Javia Gilliam gives some insight into the process of planning the City Foundry's Black History Month events.
For Javia Gilliam, planning the City Foundry’s Black History Month events is an opportunity to highlight the beauty of Black St. Louis. She says her team at City Foundry began planning the programs just as the New Year settled in.
What translated from those conversations was four days full of events, ranging from classic St. Louis trivia, Black history and networking opportunities. The events take place from February 23 through February 27 at the City Foundry (3730 Foundry Way)
Gilliam, a data analyst and asset manager at the City Foundry, stresses the importance of creating professional resources for the Black community in St. Louis. She’s a Black woman who works in tech, and with downtown St. Louis filling up with tech companies, she wants to provide an opportunity for people to network within their career field – which is exactly what the first scheduled event on February 23 does.
At 5 p.m., the founders of TechSum’n – self-taught programmers Malia Jones and Imani Myton – will act as the hosts. The event takes on a speed dating-style with guests spending seven minutes with fellow techies. Those with established history in the tech community and those just trying to break into it are welcome at the event.
Two of the nights focus on St. Louis' Black history. On February 24, a free trivia event will take over the Food Hall at 7 p.m. to quiz St. Louisans on their Black history knowledge, with a focus on how Black St. Louisans have contributed to the city over the years.
One of the events Gilliam is most excited about takes place on February 26, featuring a history lesson on Nathan "Nearest" Green and a chance to sample Uncle Nearest whiskey. Green was the first known African-American distiller, and he worked for and taught Jack Daniels how to distill whiskey when the company's distillery, located at 3690 Duncan, stood in St. Louis.
“I don’t think a lot of people knew he was part of the community,” Gilliam says. “I’m excited for people to come in and get their minds blown a little bit.”
This event is restricted to 60 tickets, which are available on Eventbrite
. The history lesson and sampling runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The week closes with a marketplace event featuring Black-owned businesses on February 27 in Suite 144 attached to the Food Hall from 12 to 4 p.m. Twenty vendors will be there and DJ Nico Marie will be performing from 12 to 2:30 p.m.
Overall, Gilliam says the City Foundry wanted to make sure they promoted and uplifted the Black community, while also celebrating the diversity within it.
“When I was planning this event I was hoping to convey to the community that Black culture and Black people – it’s not monolithic,” Gilliam says. “We enjoy all types of things and I just want to make sure I brought that spirit into the City Foundry. Hopefully, there’s something for everyone that comes. I just hope everyone sees themselves in this event.”
Gilliam hopes that next year, they’ll be able to host Black History Month related events again, done even bigger.
Find more information about the events on www.cityfoundrystl.com
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