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Madison Black Chamber of Commerce to host 5th annual Madison Black Gala tonight

Honorees celebrate at the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce awards dinner. (Photo: Krystal Images Photography)

The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce will honor some of the top Black businesses that are making a difference in Madison tonight while also paying homage to Black business excellence throughout history at the 5th annual Madison Black Gala at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.

“This is our fifth year for the awards program. We always have had great success with the Black Business Awards and it’s always been a fun event,” Camille Carter, president and CEO of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, tells Madison365. “This will not only be the 5th anniversary of our awards program but also the 10th anniversary of the Madison Black Chamber. So, as an organization, we really want to keep growing and evolving.” 

The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce focuses on building Black-owned businesses and cultivating and expanding entrepreneurship in greater Madison for the betterment of the entire city and community. Carter says that the Black Chamber currently represents almost 700 Black businesses and entrepreneurs in the Madison area. 

The Madison Black Gala is an annual event that brings together the Madison community, business professionals, and friends of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce for celebration, red-carpet glamour, and business networking. “The theme for this year’s event is ‘Black Wall Street meets Madison.’ We’re really highlighting and focusing on Black business excellence while also having a historical perspective,” Carter says. “This is a black tie affair and the dress code is going to be ‘Roaring ’20s.'”

A highlight of the event will be the Black Wall Street exhibit that will be on display. It will be the first time that the exhibit will be shown in Wisconsin.

“I think that’s something that people will really enjoy at the event — the Black Wall Street exhibit from the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum. We’re excited to be able to share this with the community,” Carter says.

The evening’s formal program features a Black Business Awards presentation to local Black businesses and entrepreneurs including categories like “Emerging Business,” “Community Leader,” “Lifetime Achievement,” “Young Entrepreneur” and “Innovator.”

Camille Carter, president of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, at the 2019 Chamber Awards dinner.
(Photo: Krystal Images Photography)

There will be two keynote speakers at the event including Ron Busby, Sr., president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., who will speak on “the state of Black business.”  Opal Lee, a Noble Peace Prize nominee and an internationally renowned advocate well known for successfully spearheading the movement to make Juneteenth a federally recognized holiday, will host an intimate fireside conversation.

“These two people are national treasurers and we really couldn’t be happier to have them speaking at the event,” Carter says.

Another highlight of the event will be the presentation of the prestigious Milele Chikasa Anana legacy award by Lee, Chikasa Anana’s first cousin. Milele was a founding board member of the Madison Black Chamber, founder/publisher of Umoja Magazine, and a Madison village matriarch who passed away in 2020.  

Prior to the Madison Black Gala, the Chamber will host a Black Wall Street Marketplace from 2 to 5 p.m. highlighting a collection of local Black businesses, artists and vendors in an ode to the historical Greenwood District and Black Wall Street where Black business excellence was a part of everyday life.


“We have about 25 businesses and vendors who will be participating in the Black Wall Street Marketplace and that is open to the greater community,” Carter says.

The Madison Black Gala, however, has been sold out.

“It’s triple sold out,” Carter says, laughing. “Which is a great thing. We’ve averaged 125-150 people for our previous awards programs but we have over double that amount coming on Thursday.”

After hosting virtual events during the pandemic, Carter says that the Madison Black Chamber is really looking forward to seeing everybody in person at tonight’s big event.

“What I love most about this event is when businesses get recognized. It’s a very prideful moment for them,” she says. “Milele and I created this program to really highlight and recognize the businesses that are doing great work in our community and we felt like this event really did that and we really looked forward to it each and every year.”