August 20-21 marked the 16th year of Oakland, California’s “Art & Soul” festival, and for the third consecutive year the Bay Area Sigma brothers of Alpha Nu Sigma proudly represented our fraternity. Like the last three years, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. was the only Greek organization to have a booth at the event. Located in the heart of downtown Oakland, Art & Soul attracts thousands of attendees throughout the Bay Area who come for a weekend filled with food, entertainment, art, fun and more.
“Having a booth at the Art & Soul festival allows us to achieve so many different things,” said Bro. Robert Birks, Director of Bigger & Better Business for the Alpha Nu Sigma Chapter. “It’s a great way to build awareness within the community of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., spread news of our international programs and the work we do within our local neighborhoods, attract the attention of prospective new brothers, and re-engage with non-active brothers as well as those who have relocated to the Bay Area and are looking for a chapter to join.”
“It’s also a great way to build relationships with various minority entrepreneurs and business owners like David Theophilus of Jazzy Bow Ties,” says Bro. Birks. “We’re continually building our database of minority-owned businesses to partner with, support and promote through our network and various communication and social media channels.”
With this being the third year in attendance at the festival, the Alpha Nu Sigma chapter has gotten setting up the booth down to a science. The key? Keep it simple, repurpose what you can from the previous year, have engaging content, include some giveaways, and be sure to have a great banner with “stopping power” that draws attention letting attendees know who you are.
2016 was an extra special year at the festival for Alpha Nu Sigma as they had a very special, and unexpected visitor stop by their booth – Fredrika Newton, widow of Bro. Huey P. Newton who co-founded the Black Panther Party in 1966. Ms. Newton casually approached the booth and began looking through The 100+ Most Influential Men of Sigma 1914-2014 book. When asked if she was Greek or had any Greeks in her family she was at page 43 in the book, stopped for a minute, tapped her finger on the photo, and in a very calm and collected voice said, “I’m Huey’s widow.” Pleasantly surprised and honored, the brothers had a great conversation with Ms. Newton and plan to stay in touch with her during this 50th anniversary year of the founding of the Black Panther Party.