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Building Our Own Table: Madison Butler
Meet the founder of Black Speakers Collection
Hello, friends, one day Madison Butler got tired of hearing people talk about the pipeline problem for Black speakers. The response to Madison’s post on the subject made it clear this wasn’t the issue. And the Black Speakers Collection (BSC) was born. I joined early, and have had a front row seat to its growth. Here, Madison gives more background on how the BSC came to be, and what’s next.
Madison, tell me briefly about your background prior to founding Black Speakers Collection.
I started Black Speakers Collection because I wanted to help even the playing field for speakers. Too often Black speakers only get booked and noticed if they have a large social media following- and then they only want to book us for Black History Month. Black speakers do not only speak in February.
I wanted to be able to leverage my own platform to get more Black speakers booked and busy. Additionally, I was tired of hearing the “I can’t find any Black speakers” excuse that we often hear from event organizers.
We wanted to be able to also create a community to support speakers because the world of speaking is kept so hush hush. I know that before I was doing this on a regular basis, I had no idea what to charge, how to pitch myself or how to set up my slide deck. We wanted to be able to provide people with the tools to be as successful as possible in this world.
Give me the elevator pitch for Black Speakers Collection.
Black Speakers Collection is a database and community intended to uplift and support Black Speakers.
And in more detail?
Black Speakers Collection is a public database for event organizers to use when they are planning their events. The database allows them to be intentional about who they have speaking and takes the work out of the “I can’t find any Black speakers” excuse. We also have a community to support speakers with workshops, networking, events and the ability to ask transparent questions about red flags, fees and other things relating to speaking.
What inequity were you trying to redress/address, and why is this important?
There is a prominent wealth gap when it comes to speakers. Oftentimes Black speakers are asked to speak for exposure and nothing more, while white men take the stage at $20k to talk about something they learned on Google. We are asked to speak out of the goodness of our hearts rather than to the addition of our wallets.
How’s it going? What has the response been?
It’s been wonderful! We launched December 2021 and have 2300+ speakers and many who have been booked and some multiple times! [Editor’s note: Madison has also launched the Black Executives Collection and the Black Talent Portal.]
What’s next for Black Speakers Collection?
We are launching a speaking series to showcase our speakers in June!
In relation to racism, what’s your vision for the future?
I’m just trying to dismantle the systems that allow racism to thrive - and that means getting Black educators paid for their labor.
Any other interesting ventures coming up for you?
I’m writing a book- stay tuned :)
Inspired by Madison’s actions? I certainly am! I’d love to hear your feedback.
Note from Sharon: Of course, Madison’s not just the founder of Black Speakers Collection. Check out Madison’s LinkedIn profile for anti-racism and anti-discrimination posts like:
With posts like those, I can’t wait for Madison’s book to come out. In the meantime, here’s where you can follow Madison Butler and Black Speakers Collection.
Thanks for reading,
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© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2022. All Rights Reserved.
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