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Vendors find first day of NAACP national convention profitable

Anthony W. Neal
Anthony W. Neal is a graduate of Brown University and University of Texas School of Law and has written for the Bay State Banner since 2012.
Vendors find first day of NAACP national convention profitable
Constance Mack (in striped shirt) shows wares at the NAACP convention. PHOTO: DON WEST

They sold jewelry, T-shirts and children’s books. Afrocentric arts and crafts and specialty oils were also on the menu.

More than 60 vendors promoted their products and services at the NAACP convention in Boston, drawing long lines and lots of praise.

“People have been coming over purchasing books and asking about my illustrations,’’ said Antoinette Lawrence, a Bowie, Maryland, author who has published four children’s books. “This is just great. I love being here.”

Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks said Friday that “business is going well,’’ as she promoted her book “Chicken Bone Beach,” a pictorial history of Atlantic City’s racially segregated Missouri Avenue Beach.

The vendors were situated in “The Hub,” which featured booths filled with corporate recruiters and vendors selling their wares. There was an area for panelists and stations for games.

Vendors promoted their products and services at the NAACP convention. PHOTO: DON WEST

In the author’s lounge, Andrew Beamon of Waterbury, Connecticut, sat down with a small audience to talk about his book, “From Promises to Progress,’’ which was inspired by the promises employers made after the 2020 killing of George Floyd. The book is a guide to successful diversity, equity and inclusion programming.

“These one-day classes on diversity don’t do much,’’ he said urging systemic changes.

Other vendors said business was brisk and they were anticipating good returns once they tallied up their receipts.

“I love the way they have the convention center set up and the interactive stuff that people can see and do,” Lawrence said.

Some other authors promoting their work included Ophelia Averitt, the legendary civil rights leader and NAACP national board member; best-selling author Carolyn Wilson; Roger House, an associate professor of American studies at Emerson College; and Rosalyn Delores Elder, a local author who is also a registered architect and entrepreneur.

Constance Mack, who owns African Arts and Crafts International, said convention sales were going well.

“Business is excellent,” Mack said.

Angela Allen, who owns a three-year-old business called Beard Love with two other partners, also said their business — which makes premium oils for beards — made a profit on the first day of the convention.

Vendors promoted their products and services at the NAACP convention. PHOTO: DON WEST

“It’s not even at its peak,’’ Allen said on Friday. “This evening, they’re expecting a lot of people. The goal is to sell out.”

They are upgrading the business to include products for skin and hair care, she said.

Rickie Thompson, who runs Prime Taste of Africa in Dorchester, which sells Afrocentric gifts and cosmetics, also said business was “pretty busy.”

“So far, so good,” Thompson said.

Other vendors promoted career exploration and job training skills, and advocacy-focused nonprofit organizations.

Olive Gongombe, a program associate for Strategic Partnerships at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington, D.C., said she bought jewelry while at the convention.

“Everybody is friendly. Everybody wants to learn more,’’ she said. “It’s great.”