Pensole Lewis college set to host Black Footwear Forum

Hannah Mackay
The Detroit News

Detroit — A Black Footwear Forum is slated to be held in Detroit at the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design from Sept. 16-18 and will include the brother of George Floyd, the Minneapolis Black man who was killed by a White police officer more than two years ago.

The annual event, which is being held at a college that is seeking to regain its Historically Black College or University designation, is geared toward bringing footwear industry professionals together with supporters. It provides a platform for sharing ideas and creating a dialogue about the influence Blacks have on the industry.

"The Black Footwear Forum has evolved into a major industry gathering to celebrate, inspire and acknowledge Black creatives globally who are responsible for the culture of our industry," PLC Founder and President D’Wayne Edwards said in a statement. "This year it’s happening in the only city in the US designated a UNESCO City of Design — Detroit, Michigan."

Dr. D'Wayne Edwards speaks ahead of the presentations to Carhartt officials at Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design on Thursday June 2nd, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.

The forum was originally named the African American Footwear Forum when it was launched in February 2019. But the name was changed in February this year to "strengthen and better represent the thousands of black footwear professionals," according to a forum statement.

The forum — which is sponsored by companies including Foot Locker and Steve Madden — will kick off with a free footwear design workshop on Sept. 16 hosted by Merit clothing brand's Detroit-based education fundraising program, Fate in Our Stars, and Pensole alumni working in the footwear industry. The workshop will be hosted at the StockX lounge in downtown Detroit.

On Sept. 17, a Kids Are Ready For Design session will be held at University Prep Elementary School, led by Jason Mayden, a former Nike designer and author of "A Kid's Book About Design." 

The last day will feature a series of speakers and panelists, including Edwards and Terrence Floyd, founder of the We Are Floyd Foundation and brother of George Floyd.

The full schedule of speakers and panelists will be made available in the coming weeks

Matt Priest, president and CEO of the Footwear Distribution and Retailers Association, one of the the forum's main partners, said Detroit is an ideal city to host the event.

"Excitement for this event has been off-the-charts as registrations and corporate support continue to roll in," Priest said.