MILLER SIGNS UP: With the Harlem Festival of Culture taking shape and the main event slated for next summer, organizers have recruited some top-shelf talent to help develop the business side.
Jordan Brand chairman Larry Miller has been named strategic adviser for the organization. The event aims to reenvision the similarly named historic 1969 festival through indoor and outdoor live music, experiential entertainment, influencer dinners, film screenings, moderated discussions and economic development programming and community impact. The original festival inspired the Oscar-winning “Summer of Soul.” Attendees and supporters of the new festival can also dress the part with $90 HFC hoodies and a $70 HFC “Love & Culture Crew” crewneck sweatshirt.
At this stage there aren’t any specific fashion events planned as organizers are developing opportunities for Harlem designers to be featured in the festival, according to organizers.
In addition to advising and consulting on every aspect of the business, especially regarding how to build the brand up financially and through branding, Miller will also help and advise on new business development, according to HFC cofounder Yvonne McNair. For his part, Miller said in a statement that there is so much to unlock from a business perspective.
The announcement touting Miller’s support Tuesday flagged his leadership in taking Nike’s Jordan Brand from a $200 million sneaker company to a $4 billion “global apparel juggernaut.” It also heralded Miller’s status as a bestselling author. However, his memoir “Jump: My Secret Journey From the Streets to the Boardroom” kickstarted controversy even before its release in January.
Miller detailed his younger self’s criminal transgressions including shooting and killing a fellow teenager in 1965 in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He spent time in juvenile detention centers and prisons. He reportedly claimed that he did not know the individual, who was identified last fall as Edward David White. The fact that Miller did not name White in his memoir or reach out to White’s family prior to the book’s release rankled some of White’s relatives. They had learned of Miller’s responsibility indirectly through advance interviews he did last fall.
Subsequently, Miller along with his cowriter daughter, Laila Lacy, met with and apologized to some of White’s relatives. All of them forgave Miller for the killing and the prospect of establishing a scholarship fund was discussed.
Asked if HCF had any reservations about Miller’s involvement in light of the controversy about his book, McNair said, “There were no reservations because he embodies the concept of reform and what it means to really ‘turn your life around.’ And is the perfect example of when the rehabilitation system works. He received the tools and utilized those tools to completely transform his life. He built a global brand and, in doing so, shifted culture forward in a major way. Most importantly, he is using his story to reach back and help others, who are seeking to rehabilitate and change their lives.”
McNair continued, “It is such an inspirational story for young men — especially young Black men — who may feel they can’t come back from mistakes they’ve made or who feel like they will never get past their current situation. They can look at him and say, ‘He came from beyond nothing and was able to turn it all around.’ It is a story of redemption and hope. And one of the major things we want to do with this festival is inspire hope and reflect positivity in the community.”