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Messaging the Benefits of the African American Children and Families Conference

Family looking at cameraAs the Conference on African American Children and Families enters into the tenth year, there are times of challenging memories of where we are today. The word transformation means change. As we face the realities about how we treat others, how we teach and what we impart to those responsible for the lives of children, we should take a retrospective view. Throughout the State of Iowa and these United States, with many population changes, rapid growth and the need for some of us to transform our attitudes so that we can be a positive contributor in our communities. Observing children being separated from their families brings back many memories of the slave movement and the struggles of keeping families together. Observing children being brought into the courtroom alone or possibly with an interpreter brings tears to one’s eyes when we think about our stand on justice and equality for all, especially our youngest population.. We are all neighbors and we need to join hands in supporting and enhancing the University of Northern Iowa’s strategic plan, especially on diversity, community engagement and inclusivity and increasing enrollment.

This is our 10th Annual Conference and we are grateful to the university’s administration for continual support for this valuable conference in a time when many budgetary matters prohibit such significant events from continuing. We are grateful and proud of you, the participants for being a part of this conference.

Dr. Gloria Kirkland Holmes, Conference Coordinator

Special Benefits of the African American Children and Families Conference to our UNI students from various majors and minors across campus

The message of a University of Northern Iowa early childhood student:

“I am so grateful that our professor allowed us to come to this conference. The things that I learned are life- lasting and I will cherish them as a part of my educational career at the University of Northern Iowa. As I get ready to student teach with diverse populations of students, I will take a wealth of knowledge with me.”

“Wow, I am so glad to be able to reflect about this experience that I had while attending this conference. I am one of the privileged ones because this is my third year. For two years my instructors required us to go, but this year, I went on my own. I learned so much that I can not stop talking about this event. When I graduate, I hope that I will be able to continue to come to this conference. Those children in that drill/bugle corp were so talented and fascinating. It was amazing seeing those drummers. Thank you to UNI and the administration for having this conference on campus so that we can be a part.

- UNI Early Childhood/Elementary Education Student

I especially appreciated the panel of judges that led a session at the conference. It is not everyday  that we have that experience. I now realize more about how the system works.  It needs a lot of transforming for juveniles as well as people of color. There are laws that often tie the judges hands and they often have to hand down mandatory sentences or if they can help transform citizens they go out of their way to give them a second chance.

-Social Work Student

Thank you so much for the Pre-conference. I love coming to this part of the two day events because there is a great focus on the local community. I love the small group discussions and we are able to express our viewpoints. Thank you and I look forward to coming next year!

-Community Member