In an effort to bring awareness to relationship issues in the black community, the Institute on Black Life has organized a two-day conference that kicks off today.
“The Black Child and Family: Strengthening and Empowering the Village” is the ninth annual research conference coordinated by the IBL, and the second dealing with family issues.
The conference features the husband and wife team of Nathan and Julia Hare. Julia opens the conference Thursday with a motivational speech titled “Strengthening and Empowering the Village.” Julia is the National Executive Director of the Black Think Tank, and has written a number of books dealing with relationship issues in the Black community. Cheriese Edwards, coordinator of the Institute on Black Life, said the session will deal with mobilizing family members.
Since the spread of AIDS and HIV is one of the largest problems facing the Black community, another session will be focused on coping with and adjusting to life with the disease. The session, “The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Black Children and Families,” will feature people associated with the treatment centers, medical background or victims themselves.
“Awareness is the number one goal of this discussion,” Edwards said. “We want to let people know that there are tools and resources available to them.
“With the rise in statistics and its effect on the family, we’d like to make people feel involved, included.”
Friday, Nathan Hare’s plenary session, “Power, Politics and Empowerment: Black Male/Female Relationships,” will deal with the male side of relationships, Edwards said.
“(We) have to hold people accountable,” Edwards said. “They won’t take responsibility unless the feel it inside.
“People need to feel straight up with one another, and to know that (they) have to take responsibility.”
Dr. Ben Carson will give the keynote address of the conference Friday evening. A leading physician in the field of pediatric neurosurgery, Dr. Carson is best known for leading two medical teams in the separations of conjoined twins, in 1987 and 1997.
Carson’s background, however, will be more at the forefront than his professional career, Edwards said.
“Carson came from a meager background,” she said.
She noted that after struggling school and poverty as a child in Detroit, Mich., Carson proceeded to improve his standing to the top of his class by high school, and earned academic scholarships for college and medical school.
There will be numerous adolescents at Carson’s lecture, as IBL is allying the event with a conference of underprivileged teens from local middle and high schools.
“Carson will be able to talk about a lot of things the youth deal with,” Edwards said. “Just because you come from a particular background doesn’t mean you’re stuck in that present circumstance.”
She also noted that many of the speakers at the IBL’s conference also spoke in Miami last month at the State of Black Union conference, run by National Public Radio’s Tavis Smiley.
Edwards said this is a broad-reaching event, and many people not affiliated with USF will be in attendance. She also noted that last year 75 percent of attendees weren’t from USF.
This year, more than 750 people have registered for at least one event at the conference, up markedly from last year’s total of 296.
The conference’s numerous sponsors include the USF College of Medicine, the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County and the University Lecture Series.While the event is free and open to the public, Edwards said it is preferred if prospective attendees register at the IBL’s Web site http://isis.fastmail.usf.edu/ibl/cform2004.asp .
Those who are registered will have priority seating at any event.