Conference Panels

Leveraging Our Assets- From Rural America to Washington D.C.

Martin Luther King spoke about how poor whites and poor blacks need to unite. Today, we cannot just focus our communities in America on the extraction economy. Communities need to discuss the challenges of driving urbanization in rural settings while avoiding past mistakes of gentrification at the expense of Black communities. This discussion will focus on how to leverage the creativity of Blacks in America in rural and urban communities alike.

We will ask the following questions: How do rural communities think about development to include the minority as they urbanize and modernize? Is it necessary for all communities to urbanize? How do communities think creatively about how to leverage their unique assets to drive growth? How do Black leaders in predominantly white towns affirm blackness, and include diverse groups while also satisfying constituents?

Whose Decade is it Anyway? The Politics of Race in International Development

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent under the theme “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.” It was a call to action for the United Nations, international organizations, states, civil society and other actors to fight the discrimination and injustices that people of African descent face globally. This panel will highlight the activities and lived experiences of African descendants who actively work to empower Black communities across the globe.

Join us as we discuss: What does the UN mean when they state recognition, justice, and development? Are we meeting the goals established by the UN? What does empowerment look like in communities that are predominantly Black?

Multifaceted Identities: Power and Perceptions

In this session we hope to highlight the battles and progress made to create enforceable laws to prevent discrimination and encourage full political participation for LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups. Our panel members will discuss strategies to advance non-discrimination laws, promote inclusion and cultivate powerful voices in politics and within the multi-faceted society in which we all live.

Against All Odds: The Importance of Black Wealth & Entrepreneurship

Wealth—an individual’s or family’s financial net worth—can function as a generational stepping stone that older generations pass on and future generations benefit from and build over time. However, America's structural racism has helped create the Black-White wealth gap which has persisted for decades, beginning with slavery. This inequality in the shape of unprecedented wealth has called into question the basic principle of a liberal society. In fact, according to the Institute for Policy Studies, the wealth disparity between black and white families will take 228 years to close.

This discussion will ask: What is the role of entrepreneurship in closing the wealth gap? How can we drive entrepreneurship in Black communities?

Technology & Innovation for the Black Community

This panel will uncover how the black community fits into the ever-changing space of technology and innovations. The panel members will discuss the challenges, opportunities, and strategies private industries are facing to ensure excellence and equity. The panel will focus on topics like data, Al, cloud, blockchain, cybersecurity, and autonomous vehicles. The panel will also discuss how political initiatives and non-profit programs or the lack thereof impacts how the Black Community not only stays relevant but thrives in technology and innovation.

Expanding Black Career Options: Growing Access to Family Sustaining Employment

This panel will cover Black employment from a historical perspective while exploring how we may need to reset our direction moving forward. It will be centered around how we are seemingly beholden to a baccalaureate education system that is not necessarily producing the outcomes we need within our communities. The panel members will discuss the interventions needed to increase the number of people from the Black community into middle skill employment. The panel aims to look into the future of work and how Black actors fit within it.

This panel will ask: Are we beholden to a college degree system? Is the college system producing the outcomes we need within our communities? What is the future of work in America and how do Blacks leverage their asset to thrive in the new economy?

Marked - Understanding the Lasting Effects of Incarceration

In America, more than 600,000 people are released from prisons every year. These individuals are constantly reminded of their previous incarceration when they look for housing, apply for jobs, and take other steps toward a healthy lifestyle. When considering the disproportionate impact of mass incarceration on the Black community, there is a need for race-conscious solutions to problems of criminal stigma.

This panel will ask: Now what? What are the success stories to support the lives of formerly incarcerated people? What are the biggest barriers for individuals trying to contribute to society after leaving prison?

Interventions Combatting Health Inequity in the Black Community

For African Americans, health inequity is the product of a history of marginalization throughout the United States. Many have struggled with approaching healthcare innovation, both inside and outside of the hospital, in order to better serve Black communities and tackle the social determinants that impede access to adequate health service and optimal health outcomes. Our panelists have each gained national recognition for their efforts in community engagement, education, organization, and public health interventions to ensure that the health of Black people is appropriately valued. Here, we explore their undertaking while exploring necessary steps to integrate their projects into permanence of policy.

What motivated you to take on your specific efforts to improve Black health? How have you dealt with challenges and barriers facing your program? In an ideal world, what would the fully integrated institution of your initiative look like on a national scale, and how would it impact those most in need?

The Joke’s On You: Comedy as an Anti-racism Tool for Survival

Racism is no laughing matter! And yet we have so much Black excellence at the intersection of comedy and activism. The people working at this intersection are affirming the Black experience through the medium of comedy and are using comedy as a way to call attention to interpersonal and structural racism. Our panelists will discuss the ways that comedy can be used as a tool for organizing, building coalitions, public education, and sometimes just a tool to use laughter to acknowledge the daily load we carry.