Ada Harper is the force behind 518Blk, a site for the Black community to discover events and information across the Cap Region. Ada created 518Blk in 2015 as an outlet to celebrate cultural, educational, social, cultural things happening in the Black community.
Prior to the creation of 518Blk, were there other media outlets highlighting local social opportunities for the Black community?
No. The media outlets were not featuring content about events happening in the community of color. There was one beloved newsletter that was geared toward the Black community when I was a kid. The granddaughter of its creator recently created CNYS Black Expo. This event has been put on for the past two years and is growing. Its main function is to celebrate Black entrepreneurship.
How did 518Blk evolve?
When I first started 518Blk, I was working on my master’s degree and got a certificate in social media management. I decided it was time to contribute to the social climate by creating my own events. A lot of people would travel to NYC for different experiences that we could have right here at home. I hosted brunches and collaborated with others on various community events. It was uplifting and positive, but I became a caretaker after a family member was involved in a car accident. Soon, the role became overwhelming and I stepped back from 518Blk.
What has inspired you to activate the mission of 518Blk again?
The social unrest of police brutality and the injustices happening to Black people. Recent events caused me to sit quietly and process this reality. Some people were reaching out to me asking why I wasn’t posting anything. They were asking me to promote protests, etc. I just had to stop. I had to figure out the “why” behind 518Blk – I was at a crossroads.
Finally, I had a clearer vision of what I wanted. I want to put on bigger and better events, find sponsors, and collaborate with Black-owned businesses. My vision is for a rebrand. I need to reach out to find people who can work on my team.
In order for 518Blk to get additional exposure, horrible things had to happen to Black people. I was plugging along, but not getting much visibility. Due to recent events, white people are asking “how can we help Black people?” I will take this as an opportunity to challenge myself and elevate my brand because what I’m doing with 518Blk is valid and deserves visibility. As Black people, we have to control our narrative and celebrate each other.
What actions should people take after reading this interview?
Put your money where your mouth is. Support Black business – use the CapNY crowdsourced Black-Owned Business List.
Connect With 518Blk
Ada Harper is looking for people/businesses to collaborate with. She invites you to reach out with any marketing and/or branding freelance opportunities.
Written by: Gabby Fisher
Gabby is a serial entrepreneur living solo with her toy poodle, Mochi, in Schenectady. She also happens to be the Senior Producer on the CapNY branding initiative!