Yale's 18th Annual Black Solidarity Conference drew roughly 200 students past weekend. The conference centered around activism in the modern era and included panels, a career fair and a concert. Photo by Kathryn Crandall.
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The conference, which concluded with a celebration at the Omni Hotel Saturday night, included several events throughout Friday and Saturday such as panels on education and virtual activism, a professional networking career fair and a concert at Toad's. Marc Morial, the keynote speaker and current president of the civil rights advocacy group the National Urban League, discussed the economic and political issues facing young African Americans today.
"The objective is not a post-racial America", Morial said. "It is a post-racist America, a multicultural America."
Morial traced the ways in which several major events in U.S. history from 1863 to the present related to African-American identity, such as the imprisonment of Martin Luther King Jr., the Great Depression, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the re-election of President Barack Obama. He said the questions raised by these historical events are relevant to today's younger African-American generation because they show a "tragedy and triumph of black and brown youth."
Morial outlined several challenges that present-day African-American youth must address, including poverty, income, globalization and the new concept of diversity. He said the strength of the United States comes from its multiculturalism, and that everyone must be proud of their origins outside of the United States. Society still needs to adapt fully to its "new diversity," he said, adding that the change is positive because it allows ethnic nuances to emerge and the corresponding differences between races to be respected.
At a Saturday morning panel called "From the Classroom to the Community: The Importance of an Education," six panelists spoke about the importance of teaching students about African-American history and government. The panel -- which included Calhoun College Master Jonathan Holloway, Teach for America participant Evan Hendon, Reverend Forrest Pritchett, motivational speakers Tina and Trina Fletcher and Emmanuel Paul Sterling, a representative from the non-profit organization City Year -- encouraged the students in the audience to take an active role in helping younger African-American kids at public schools through mentoring programs.
"Be that person who gets up and goes over to the school -- talk to the principal, talk to the baseball coach and see if you can tutor [the] students," Tina Fletcher said.
Fletcher said she thinks classroom education is essential to helping African-American students develop character, which will in turn reduce crime rates. All panelists agreed that the public education system in the United States needs to be reformed to foster a more constructive learning process that will motivate kids to concentrate on their studies and develop career ambitions.
Source: Yale Daily News | LAVINIA BORZI