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City Awake Presents the Second Annual Fierce Urgency of Now (F.U.N.) Festival for Greater Boston's Young Professionals of Color

August 15, 2019

From September 4-8, business, civic, and governmental organizations will come together to host a series of programs designed to highlight the experiences of, challenges, and possibilities for young people of color in our region.

Boston, Mass. – City Awake is pleased to announce the second annual Fierce Urgency of Now (FUN) festival to be held September 4-8, 2019 across Boston. FUN is a five-day festival featuring nearly 40 different events, all designed to highlight the experiences of, challenges, and possibilities for young professionals of color in Boston. City Awake is a program of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) and the leading platform for young professionals in the Greater Boston area.

Festival programs will be hosted across the city by various partner organizations from the business, civic, and government communities. The festivities will kick off on September 4 with “After 5 @ Fenway,” a pregame party followed by a Red Sox versus Minnesota Twins matchup. On Friday, September 6, City Awake and P&G Gillette will partner to present the festival keynote event – a fireside chat with Tristan Walker, founder & CEO of Walker and Company Brands, a company that strives to make health and beauty simple for people of color. P&G acquired Walker and Company in 2018, and Walker continues to operate as CEO. In a discussion moderated by Boston Globe culture writer, Jeneé Osterheldt, Walker will speak about his journey as a young black entrepreneur, the opportunities and challenges that can come from large corporations and startups joining forces, and running a business as a millennial father of two.

Other events include a professional development session hosted by the New England Aquarium and the Boston Public Health Commission focused on how climate change impacts communities of color; a panel discussion led by “Googlers of Color” at the Google office followed by a project fair where employees display their work; an inclusive and nostalgic 90’s Night at the Boston Children’s Museum; a showcase for queer artists of color hosted by Citizen Schools; an Afrobeat fit session at Hibernian Hall; and the Bostown Music Festival hosted by Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen, to name just a few. A complete listing of events can be found attached and online

“To address the reputation and realities of Boston as a city that is unwelcoming to people of color, we need to bring people across sectors, backgrounds, and perspectives together for meaningful dialogue that leads to change,” said Justin Kang, executive director of City Awake and vice president of Economic Growth for the GBCC. 

“Young professionals of color are critical to this work, and through FUN we are giving a platform to lead in creating a Boston where all can thrive.”

“For greater Boston to maintain and grow its economic standing, we must ensure that we are addressing the challenges holding us back as a city, particularly challenges that impact our ability to attract and retain a talented workforce,” said James E. Rooney, president & CEO of the GBCC. “Our region’s population is younger and more diverse than at any time in our history, so it is imperative that we provide connecting opportunities and discuss issues that will make us a better, more welcoming, and more competitive city. FUN is a way to have those important conversations while also having a good time and building stronger connections between the business community and young people of color.”

“Millennials of color have a right to feel like they not only belong and are welcomed but that they are truly valued and supported where they live and work,” said Dani Monroe, Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at Partners HealthCare. “As employers, we know how imperative it is that they have opportunities to build their professional skills and presence in the workplace but their ultimate success hinges on much more than we can accomplish within the walls of our organizations.  It is vital that we work together as a community to build up this critical segment of Boston’s workforce and Fierce Urgency of Now does just that by providing spaces for people of color to have the opportunity to grow both professionally and socially, and build meaningful connections that will allow them to have a stronger presence in the workforce and in their own personal lives.”

The idea for FUN was born from the results of the 2017 report City of Millennials, a collaboration between Boston Indicators, the Boston Foundation and City Awake. The report identified a divergent experience for millennials of color living and working in Greater Boston, and demonstrated their disproportionate challenges dealing with affordability, overall economic security, and the ongoing narrative of Boston as an unwelcoming city for young professionals of color.

The title “Fierce Urgency of Now” is inspired by a famous Dr. Martin Luther King phrase, used on at least two occasions. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, King states: 

“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time […] to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”

The 2019 FUN event is sponsored by Presenting Sponsors: Arnold Worldwide, John Hancock, Partners HealthCare and Contributing Sponsors: The Boston Red Sox, P&G Gillette, The Boston Foundation, TSNE Mission Works, and Tufts Health Plan.

FUN is also a product of the Greater Boston Chamber’s Economic Growth department overall economic growth initiatives aimed at increasing economic opportunity for all Greater Boston businesses and individuals. Another program developed from this department is the groundbreaking Pacesetters program, a partnership of large and midsized Chamber member organizations who have committed to leveraging their collective purchasing power to create opportunities at scale for local enterprises of color. And in September, the Chamber will launch a new program aimed at creating more internship opportunities for college students of color.

About City Awake

City Awake is the leading platform for next-generation leaders in the Greater Boston area. A program of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, City Awake empowers next generation leaders through programming that builds community and fosters dialogue about the most pressing issues facing our region. Through this work, City Awake aims to deepen young professionals’ connections to the broader business and civic communities and recognize their important contributions to our economy. Learn More at CityAwake.org.

About the Greater Boston Chamber

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is the convener, voice and advocate of our region’s business community, committed to making Greater Boston the best place for businesses and people to thrive. It helps its members and Greater Boston succeed by convening and connecting the business community; researching, developing and advocating for public policies that contribute to our region’s economic success; and providing comprehensive leadership development programs designed to grow strong business and civic leaders. Learn more at BostonChamber.com.