Illinois Black Chamber News By Lord Mic Williams

President Ivory Accepts New Appointment as Chairman of the Board for the National Black Chamber!

Washington D.C. – We want to congratulate Mr. Ivory on this appointment as he brings his depth of experience, expertise and knowledge to the national platform, helping to provide oversight to a number of critical strategic areas identified by the National’s leadership team.

It’s no secret that there has always been a special relationship between the Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce (ILBCC) and the National Black Chamber. “Larry is one of the founding members of the NBCC (1993) and has been dedicated to our growth and effectiveness from the very beginning. He displays his organizational and leadership skills on a daily basis via his comprehensive leadership of the Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce, which he and his wife, Janis Ivory, evolved from the Peoria Black Chamber of Commerce, in the early 1990’s,” said NBCC President/CEO Harry C. Alford. Growth and investment (fundraising) will be Larry’s focus during his upcoming tenure. Chairman Ivory will also focus on establishing and strengthening the national federation of state chambers and other special projects. “Mr. Ivory’s non partisan leadership approach to business development has led to significant success and respect from both political parties,” said NBCC Co-Founder Kay DeBow Alford. “We are proud to announce the appointment of Larry D. Ivory as the new Chairman of the National Black Chamber for the 2019–2021 term.”

Mr. Ivory has the highest degree of respect and reverence for the national. “It was an honor to take the mantle when President Alford called upon me,” said Mr. Ivory. “I’m proud to serve, what I consider, the greatest national Black chamber in the land; always at the forefront of the national stage promoting Black business equity and empowerment. I look forward to assisting in strengthening the brand and supporting the issues that impact our corporate partners.” With the ILBCC being one of the premier chambers in the national federation, President Ivory’s reprisal as the Chair of the National Black Chamber is a clear move towards unifying the national and global brand.

Mr. Ivory is still highly committed to the continued growth of the Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce and its members. In fact, this new role will add both national and global dimensions of cross connectivity that he will bring back to the Illinois Black business community. The ILBCC’s Regional Vice Presidents and organizational leadership team will be stepping forward accordingly to assist in maintaining the Chamber’s commitment to the Illinois agenda and & constituency in order& to continue bringing value to Illinois.

“It has been a wonderful pleasure to serve as Chairwoman of the NBCC.” said current Chair Courtney Reynolds. “I have learned so much that will help me become a better businesswoman and a leader in my new role as head of the “Empower Women Initiative” alongside Kay DeBow.  As Courtney’s term as Chair, sunsets, she assures that Larry will continue doing an awesome job for the organization and take it to higher levels as Chairman.”

“We’re Not Leaving $840 Million On The Table”

If you’re a Black or minority contractor in Illinois, you should be mindful of the most perverse of economic disparities. There is a deficit of $840 million between what should be spent via the Business Enterprise Program (BEP) in the health care space. I wish that I was only speaking tongue in cheek but this, unfortunately, is not merely a sensationalized anecdote intended to drive home a point. It’s the stark reality and a glimpse of the treacherous business landscape that Black contractors and businesses have had to navigate for generations. Clearly, the playing field ain’t level or fair!

I’ll make it plain with actual data. For fiscal year 2019, the Illinois Department of Health & Family Services (HFS) was charged with spending $840 million dollars with Black and minority contractors. This is the set percentage goal derived from their overall contracting & procurement budget. It’s a dollar amount intentionally separated out and appropriated to be spent exclusively with minority firms.

For myriad reasons, they have only been able to disperse about $4 million of those dollars. That presents a chasmic, nearly billion dollar shortfall! Can you believe this? Can you believe the lack of urgency in addressing this concern? Can you believe that the powers that be otherwise wouldn’t have made this perverse economic disparity known? What’s worse is that these state agencies still have yet to provide any formal strategic plan to increase their utilization of Black and Minority firms. Instead, they’ve been asking the BEP Council for yet another windfall of exemptions, which would only produce the same outcome of being able to ignore this responsibility! 

To add insult to their inability to perform, they’re still citing a long held and clearly debunked inability to identify qualified Black and minority contractors to do business with.

However, here are some additional facts: The ILBCC proudly represents the over 144,000 Black businesses registered in Illinois. We know thousands of qualified Black professionals that, given the opportunity, would appreciate doing business with the healthcare system! We are proud to support a private sector initiative to address these inequities. Stay tuned. Your Chamber is at work for you, and we will produce opportunities that continue to advance the cause of Black business in the Great State of Illinois.

If you’re doing business, you can & should be doing business with the healthcare systems!

-Dr. Jeffrey Sterling


The Chamber celebrated our “Focus On Black Filmmaking” with a red carpet viewing of Harry Lennix’s “Revival” on Peoria’s Riverfront Museum’s Giant Screen for VIP screenings on November 2nd and 3rd. This is the second installment to the Chamber’s initiative to feature Black filmmakers & films from across the country.

On Saturday, November 2nd at 6pm a sellout crowd of VIP guests & dignitaries enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and mingled prior to the VIP viewing, and then engaged the Writer, Producers & Cast in an exclusive, intimate Q & A panel immediately following.

Revival! written by Harry Lennix (Man of SteelThe Matrix) and directed by Danny Green, is a fresh and contemporary take on portraying the gospel of Jesus Christ. What makes Revival! so unique is the diverse casting, modern depictions of biblical stories, and the use of hybrid idioms to convey in new and unique ways a gospel that has been told for centuries. Revival! is a mixed media experience that depicts the gospel according to John the Apostle. The film infuses elements of a Broadway musical, animation, green screen and sound stage in a manner that is relatable and interesting.

In Revival! Jesus is Black and it is refreshing to see. The disciples are all different complexions and their physical appearances reflect the spectrum of several ethnicities. Additionally, close attention is given to the historical context of what the Word of God says about actual events that are archived in the Bible. Considering the geographical locations that Jesus and the disciples sojourned throughout the depictions of men and women of color throughout the narrative makes sense. Lebanon, the District of Phoenicia, Israel and Galilee to name a few, are all places that are located in the Middle East where white skin and blue eyes are not the norm. Seeing men and women in the cast with varied skin tones and different hair textures is effective.

“Revival!” is an unique visual and musical experience based on the Gospel of John. Originally a Passion play, it freely blends elements of stage and cinema, creating a fresh take on this well known story. Featuring a cast of Grammy nominated artists led by Mali Music and Chaka Khan,who perfectly personifies Herodias Queen of Galilee, Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child) as Mary Magdalene, Kenny Lattimore (In the CutThe Young and The Restless) as Lazarus, and Dawnn Lewis (Dream Girls) as Cleo and Wendy Raquel Robinson (The GameThe Steve Harvey Show) amongst many others with arrangements by Gospel great Donald Lawrence, “Revival!” is truly a musical treasure.

“Revival!” espouses a message of love and courage, something that can help comfort all of us as we process the chaos of daily life.

Harry Lennix, Writer of “Revival!”

Great things are on the horizon for Black businesses and communities so stay tuned and stay engaged! Please know that the Chamber is here for YOU! We want you to plug in and begin your journey of personal and professional growth and development too. That’s very important to us!

Follow us @IllinoisBlackChamber across the socials and @Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce on LinkedIn. Get a bird’s eye view of what’s important to the Black business community by texting ILBCC to 22828 for a free subscription to our Black Business News Journal. 

For more information on the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce visit