Reinforcing the essentiality of Black media and the importance of diverse storytelling, The Black Owned Media Equity and Sustainability Institute (BOMESI) recently held a successful three-day conference, the Black Owned Media Weekend. The event concluded on June 16, 2023, illuminating a forward path for the evolution of Black-owned media and gathering participants from a myriad of backgrounds, including the corporate world, entertainment industry, and media sector. LittleAfrica News Founder and Publisher Mona Davids was in attendance, having also participated in last year’s conference.
Themed “The Future of Black Owned Media,” the conference took place in Tulsa, the city known for the growth of Black Wall Street and home to one of the first Black publications, the Tulsa Star. The conference ignited discussions on various crucial topics, including economic empowerment and storytelling in LGBTQ+ media, reflecting on the past and casting a vision for the future of Black-owned media.
Founded in June 2020, BOMESI has a singular mission to unite and advance Black-owned media businesses, provide public education on their importance, and offer support in terms of resources. Recognizing Black-owned media outlets’ central role in Black communities for over 190 years, BOMESI has curated a public database of these businesses nationwide. Their resilience and influence testify to their dedication to significant issues like voting rights, civil rights, fair pay, unionization, education equity, and healthcare disparities.
BOMESI initiative, the “Accelerator” program, focused on increasing the number of diverse and Black-owned media companies well-positioned to conduct sustainable business with top advertisers. The program underscores the significance of infrastructure development, ecosystem building, and audience expansion.
Zawadi Morris, Founder and Publisher for BK Reader, has also attended the conference for the past two years, participating in the Accelerator program. She said, “I learned more in these last three months probably about my business, than in these last three years.”
Morris continued, “I’m so appreciative of the work that DéVon and Rhonesha are doing for us Publishers. You know that their heart truly is in making sure that black media owners not only are recognized and put in a place where they can grow, but that they also can talk about their business in powerful ways and that they’re empowered in that way as well, so it was probably one of the best accelerators I’ve participated in ever.”
As part of the Accelerator’s Fall 2023 Cohort, BOMESI is actively scouting for diverse-owned, industry-defining digital publishers ready to join the 12-week program. In addition to funding, the program offers working sessions with industry experts, hands-on mentorship, and an opportunity to become part of the rapidly expanding community of diverse publishers and digital media leaders.
BOMESI was founded by DéVon Christopher Johnson and Rhonesha Byng.
Johnson, a skilled marketer, and communicator who transformed his brand from a single publication, Bleu Magazine, into a comprehensive multimedia company. Johnson’s vast experience spans industry giants like Def Jam Records, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Atlantic Records, collaborating on projects with celebrated artists like Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, Trey Songz, and Rihanna.
Byng is the CEO of “Her Agenda”, a pioneering force in digital media platforms dedicated to millennial women. An Emmy award-winning journalist and entrepreneur, Byng has earned esteemed accolades like a spot in the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and ESSENCE magazine’s 50 Founders To Watch.
“For too long, systemic barriers in the advertising industry have kept independent Black-owned media from access to deal flow. This impacts the sustainability of both legacy and next-gen publishers that center and serve an underrepresented community,” Byng said.
She emphasizes the need for publishers who understand their community and can share crucial information with grace and integrity. “We must be mindful of who gets to own their story and what levers affect the ability for those stories to have an impact,” she added.
By leveraging this rich history and providing resources for Black-owned media businesses, BOMESI continues to play an instrumental role in advancing the future of Black-owned media. This mission was evident throughout the recent conference.
**LittleAfrica News is a proud member of BOMESI.
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