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STHM Alum Celebrates Black Creativity with Juneteenth Event

By: Mariyum Raina Rizwan
First Published: June 14, 2023
Topics: Alumni, STHM School


Photo courtesy of Melvin Powell

Melvin Powell, BS ’13, first met Saleem Taaj Sabree, KLN ’13, in the 1940 Residence Hall at Temple University.

Fourteen years later, the duo are not only still friends, but now colleagues.

Their partnership began in college, when they would throw parties for Temple students that eventually expanded into block parties for the surrounding neighborhoods. Powell and Sabree turned that passion into a series of event planning and party promoting businesses before co-founding Sync Production group in 2020, a specialized event planning and consultation service.

Now, the alums will be hosting their second annual community festival series called Black Soul Summer. Their first event of the series celebrates Juneteenth Fest on Saturday, June 17.

The series had started with their signature “All Love Block Party,” which was founded in 2017 and quickly became a community staple. One of the largest festivals in North Philadelphia, the festival was able to return in 2021 following the pandemic.

“Going into 2022 we were like, ‘How can we make this bigger than just one event?’” says Powell. “It was really trying to figure out how we could help other curators, especially Black and Brown curators, build an event of that size. And so that’s where the idea of Black Soul Summer came out,” Powell says.

Black Soul Summer is a coalition of African American and Latino event curators and entrepreneurs. Powell provides resources to help these curators scale and grow their events. Through Sync Productions’ custom ticketing platform, curators are connected with others who can help with their event production, from DJs and venues to stage vendors and speakers. Black Soul Summer aims to empower Black and Brown artists with interests in videography, photography, media, journalism and visual and performing arts.

“Our mission is really to empower independent entrepreneurs,” Powell says.

Powell and his partner want to embrace diversity and difference and encourage Black creators to promote their work at these events.

“I think the biggest impact for us is just representation. When people come to our events, they’re able to see it’s curated by Black people and that we hire Black people,” Powell says.

When Powell graduated from STHM, he felt prepared to take the event planning industry by storm. From working at the Liacouras Box Office during his junior and senior years to landing an internship at the Wells Fargo Center, Powell credits his time spent studying at STHM as well as his volunteering experience in the community for his success in owning his own business.

“It was really the real-world experience that I got when I was at Temple,” he says. “I was not the greatest student. I was an average student at best, but the STHM program had us do 250-300 [industry] hours in our freshman and sophomore years,” which prepared him for the professional world.

Sync Productions target three audiences: people who have a passion or skill but can’t utilize it because of their corporate job; people who aren’t in the right mindset and could be mentally blocked from pursuing them from their goals; and side hustlers who still work their 9-5 job while pursuing their entrepreneurial goals.

“We are trying to get people to learn how they can actually monetize [their passions] to make it into their full-time job,” says Powell. “And helping people who might be solo entrepreneurs or maybe they have a small team, a small business, and figuring out how we can help them scale their business as well.”

Powell wants people to realize they don’t need to work 40-60 hours a week to “make someone else’s dreams come true.”

Black Soul Summer is a passion project birthed by two Temple alumni who used to throw block parties in North Philadelphia. Now, they are creating bridges between communities.

“We’re gonna bring good positive events that are gonna help employ and bring just good vibes to these areas that have kind of been underserved as well,” says Powell.

Check out any of their free summer events on their website,