The Time Is Now: Restructuring Our Mind and Spirit

Welcome to the 10th Annual African American Children and Families Conference and the 15th Annual UNI African American Read-In for 2021. We at the University of Northern Iowa are proud and honored to offer our first virtual African American conference and read-in due to Covid-19. We will still provide high-quality and culturally relevant presentations for our participants by great presenters and speakers that meet the needs of children and families. This year these events have continued with the support of the university’s administration due to the urgency of some of the needs of families and children. There is a national cry for attitudinal and social justice changes, actions and demonstration of caring and sharing in bettering the lives of children and families locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Please join us virtually for  another great year of helping to spread the word that we all should be a part of the “village,” ensuring justice, peace, understanding and good will toward each other.

Conference registration now open. 

This is a Zoom webinar. You will receive instructions and a Zoom link upon registration. FREE to middle, high school and UNI students, staff and faculty. Other adult attendees: $50 (Georgia State University students, $10). 7 Social Work CEUs are also available for $10 processing fee. 

Who should attend the conference:  Pre-service and in-service teachers, administrators, childcare providers, law enforcement, policy makers, social workers, health professionals, business leaders, employers, students, faculty -- anyone committed to improving the lives of children! 


The College of Education started this conference 10 years ago with hopes of promoting diversity and better understanding among all people as we strive to help children attain positive goals in life through our educational mission. This conference engages local, state, regional, national and international stakeholders in meaningful dialogue and problem solving to serve African American children, families, communities and allies as we network to strengthen our collective perspectives on our campus community.

Why Now? Urgency Matters

With the recent murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and too many other African Americans, worldwide demonstrations and support through the Black Lives Matter expressions cause us to realize the real need for the African American Children and Families Conference. For the first time, the conference will be virtual due to the pandemic.

We saw the National Basketball Association join in the social justice movement, stating that they were not just playing ball, but were also standing up for social justice changes!  Athletes have become the leading voices in speaking out against injustices, inequities and mistreatment of people of color. Thus the Black Lives Matter movement has spread across America and  other countries. The message of treating all people with respect and dignity is at the forefront of people of all races, cultures and backgrounds to join together to make a difference. The message is “the time is now!"

There is an urgency that Black Lives Do Matter and that Black Children’s Lives Matter, too!

The suspension and expulsion rates of Black children, especially preschoolers,  and the perceived lack of concern for children being present as their family members are gunned down are evidenced by the need for a change.

This conference focuses on Black children as well as their families and includes our university students as well as all of those who can empower them to go out and make a difference in their respective careers and educational fields.

UNI, with this conference, has become a leader in Iowa, regionally and nationally by supporting the need for change and betterment of lives. Having the President, Provost and Dean of the College of Education makes it matter by having leading voices and sending encouragement and support to to believe in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The time is now.”

Two girls dancing outside


As we approach the 10th year of the University of Northern Iowa's African American Children and Families Conference, we are happy to present diverse and well prepared presenters and researchers to share about the lives and experiences of African American children and families. This is one of the few nationally and internationally recognized conferences addressing relevant issues that present a strength-based approach to children and families. Participants are community and state-wide representatives such as educators, faculty, staff, administrators, school personnel, law enforcement, social workers, psychologists, parents as well as middle and high school and university students.

We are a team of supporters ensuring the delivery of culturally relevant information, by providing resources and documentation reigniting the power to focus on the unique strengths and needs of Black children. The emphasis of a strengths-based model decries the all-too-often deficit-focused model imposed upon Black children and their families. With the support of the University of Northern Iowa's administration, faculty, students and representatives of our local and statewide communities, we must forge ahead  for the betterment of all people. We must be more determined than ever before that we are assuring that our graduates who leave the university are prepared to make unbiased and supportive decisions as they venture out into the world, working with diverse populations. With Iowa's changing diverse population, the time is now to help implement the university's strategic plan on diversity, inclusion and community engagement. We, too, are a part of the mission of the National Black Child Development Institute's message of improving and advancing the quality of life for Black children and their families through education, support and advocacy.

Join us on this urgent journey.