Celebrating Black History Month With Freeman’s Marveen Hart

February 22, 2024

Taking place each February, Black History Month is an ideal time to honor and celebrate the achievements of Black people in the events and trade show industry and renew our commitment to continue fostering diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

We want to recognize and highlight Black industry leaders and share their experiences. This week, we are featuring Marveen Hart, Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Freeman, a full-service exhibitions, exhibits and events company with a 97-year legacy. She shares tips on how event professionals can champion DEI in the events industry and a personal story on the importance of Black History Month to her.


Marveen Hart, Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Freeman

What she does: Marveen Hart serves as the Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Freeman, a global events company that is redefining live for a new era. Hart is an advisor, advocate, catalyst for change and institutional resource focused on infusing DE&I into experiences, tracking progress toward goals, and communicating progress to successfully attract, engage, develop and retain a diverse workforce and inclusive culture within the organization. 

Freeman's Marveen Hart

Previous experience: As the former vice president, DEI for United Way Worldwide, she was responsible for providing technical and programmatic leadership related to DE&I within the United Way network. In this role, she provided and shared tools, resources, best practices and trends related to inclusion to local United Ways in communities across the U.S. She offered leadership and direction for the continuous assessment and growth of network-wide efforts in building an inclusive culture. She served as an advisor to the CEO, President and senior leadership on the policies, programs, practices and resources needed to achieve excellence in the inclusion and equity space. 


What tips would you share with fellow event professionals and the industry at large to champion DEI? 

Leaders at all levels have a unique opportunity to embrace the new realities — growing a global workforce, demographic shifts and drastic marketplace changes. This new way of existing requires us all to be inclusive leaders. Leadership isn’t solely limited to those with official titles and status. No matter what your background, experiences and identities are, and where you are situated in the organization, it’s important to champion DE&I whenever you can through inclusive menu planning, neuro-inclusive meeting practices, and accessibility considerations and procedures. It’s up to you to lead inclusively from your seat. 

From an interpersonal standpoint, start with a commitment to being a great ally. Pick a community or population that you know little about yet would like to understand better. From there start reading, listening to podcasts and seek out mentors from that community who are willing to pour into you, and/or connect as a mentee (where you can pour into them by encouraging, supporting and sponsoring that person). It’s a great way to broaden and deepen your knowledge and experience with a community or segment. Change lies in all of us — so get out of your own way and be an inclusive leader! 


At the 2023 ESCA Summer Educational Conference, Freeman's Marveen Hart (right) talked about DEI on a panel with OVG's Debonair Oates-Primus (middle) and ENN's Danica Tormohlen (left).

Will you share a personal story, memory or experience that highlights the importance of Black History Month to you? 

We find ourselves at a time when people are questioning Black history. I have no problem shouting from the rooftops that “Black history is American history.” During my upbringing my parents, Black educators, and church leaders saw it as critical and imperative that we were grounded in our history and that we celebrated it. They didn’t rely on the school system to teach us as it rarely was addressed with the focus that it deserved. 

During my elementary years, I attended an all-white Catholic school. It was a great institution, but at that time, not very welcoming of my sister and I who were the only children of color at the school. The very stern principal of the school who saw it as her responsibility to cover and protect us while we were in her care, approached me about developing and presenting on Black history in February (an assignment that she expected every year thereafter). It was quite a daunting assignment, but one where my classmates listened respectfully and learned from what I shared. 

I knew then, and especially now, that there is an opportunity to understand Black history. And it’s about going beyond just racism and the enslavement of a people (which is still extraordinarily important for us to acknowledge and to grapple with). It’s imperative that we also spotlight and highlight Black achievement throughout our history. 



Partner Voices
For the past 18 years, BlueHive Exhibits has been a steadfast partner for both national and international companies, catering to their trade show and event needs.