For centuries, Black culture has revolved around two main things, in particular: unity and camaraderie.
This is why family reunions, cookouts and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) homecomings have particularly been so popular among Black folks.
It’s also the main reason why Atlanta Greek Picnic (AGP) has had such a tight grip on young Black culture for nearly 20 years now. The summer social event that takes place at prominent HBCU Morris Brown College in Atlanta is one of the largest get-togethers for “Divine Nine” Black Greek Letter Organization members every single year.
Since its inception in 2004, the event has attracted 350,000 members of the Divine Nine (D9) and now brings in more than 20,000 people per year and produces an annual economic impact of approximately $25 million. According to AGP founder Tiwa Works, he has seen people from as far as Japan taking part in the festivities.
“AGP is about bringing people together who are like-minded, really on the basis of fun,” said Works. “A big HBCU, D9 homecoming. That’s what I truly look at it as.”
This year’s multi-day event began Wednesday and lasts through Sunday, during which the requisite day parties, step shows and live music performances will take place.
While the entertainment aspect of AGP is the main draw, what many people don’t realize about the event is how powerful of a resource the event can be for increasing Black advancement and Black opportunity.
The event that has grown from 100 people in 2004 to the cultural staple that it is now is a prime opportunity for networking and connection among educated Black people from all over the country.
“Typically, D9 Greeks are in higher levels of office around any type of industry,” said Works. “So, when you get to network and you have a commonality, even if you are in a separate organization, you have a union because you have a similar understanding and that just takes people to the next level.”
For Works, his ideal trajectory of AGP is for the event to become a massive one-stop shop for Black entrepreneurs, and Black professionals looking to elevate themselves. But of course, this won’t be at the expense of having a great time.
AGP is working on secondary aspects like AGP careers entity, a marketplace, and even a venture capital fund that they feel will have a great impact on Black culture.
“We all understand, ‘what’s the ultimate goal?’ To take this thing to the next level, to be more successful, for people to have a great time and to be impactful. Our impact has to be felt, and I think we as a team have done extremely well every single year to be able to make that happen,” Works stated. “We want other people to say that because we participated with AGP on these platforms we were able to become way more successful than we would have been on anyone else’s platform.”
The event that has now gained sponsorship from Toyota, GroupOn, and Bacardi will look to build upon its legacy in the Black community as it expands to other major cities like Washington D.C. and Miami. AGP will likely continue to prove just how powerful a community of educated Black minds can be.
“We wanted to beat that stigma, that we as Black people can come together and have fun in one space, we can leave without any source of violence happening,” said Works. “It’s really more [about] legacy now at this point… we just want to be able to give people such a dope experience and we want to make sure that no matter what or who’s coming, when they leave we were able to help them create a memory that will last a lifetime.”
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