Don’t at us, but July 4th weekend really belongs to the Essence Festival of Culture. Thanks to its Vice President Hakeem Lathon, he ensures the three-day event is the biggest of the summer. By balancing his training in the arts—he completed his drama degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and worked on a number of theater, television and film projects—with his New Orleans roots, Lathon is at the right place at the right time. Since being brought on to lead up all things EFOC (partnerships, talent, creative, hospitality), the marketing strategist is championing ways the 29-year-old festival can be more innovative and inclusive of all walks of Black culture. This year he made a step toward that by hosting Essence’s first-ever queer space event with Alphonso David of Global Black Economic Forum. —K.M.