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The SOHP is one of the sponsors of the upcoming Black Communities Conference (, which will take place in Durham April 23-25th, 2018. The multi-disciplinary conference will connect academic researchers and Black Communities across North America. According to the website, “by creating new collaborations, the conference will help to document, safeguard and enhance the life of these communities.”

Screen shot of Black communities Conference title page, includes date and description

Black Communities Conference co-chair Dr. Mark Little, Executive Director of UNC’s Kenan Institute and Director of NCGrowth, says conference attendees can expect a spirit that is “practical, optimistic, forward-thinking” throughout the gathering. Taking place April 23-25, 2018 in Durham NC, it will foreground success stories and is structured to inspire new collaborations. Little and his co-chair, Dr. Karla Slocum, UNC Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Institute of African American Research, hope attendees will emerge with new relationships that lead to programs and research to improve the life of Black communities. Registration is still open and  travel and registration scholarships are available for those attending but not presenting.

Little hopes much more than traditional conference-style teaching and learning will happen at BCC. “If that is all that happens,” he says, “It will not have been a success. Instead, we hope people leave with new connections that are directly relevant to their lives and work.” The format of the conference reflects this desire; morning sessions focus on “absorbing” new information and will include panels and presentations, while afternoon sessions provide opportunities for dialogue and will include workshops, working group discussions and community tours.

Screenshot of part of the conference schedule

The conference comes at a time of heightened interest and attention to Black communities, though Little points out that conference topics have been relevant for many decades. Little and Slocum expected to get 80-100 proposals, but instead received 300. Half of the presentations will be by community members and half by scholars, and include presenters who hail from all around North America, including Canada and Mexico. The three-day jam-packed conference agenda includes presentations by elected officials, scholars from a variety of disciplines, and community activists and educators. Attendees can enjoy panels, workshops, tours, film screenings and performances on a variety of topics, from education to cultural tourism, Black elected officials, police accountability, and more.

The conference builds on a 2015 convening of historically Black towns and settlements and the work of the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance (HBTSA) since that time. “This conference is open to a much larger group [than the 2015 gathering],” Little explains. “Members of the HBTSA will also attend this conference, plus it will also include leaders from other urban communities and neighborhoods that emerged as a result of the Great Migration and are also geographically defined, as well as Black communities that are not geographically defined.”

About the origins of the conference, Little explains, “We originally wanted to create a clearinghouse where scholars and community leaders could find each other to work on collaborative efforts. We decided on a conference format, and it has now blossomed to be much more than that original vision. Not only will scholars and community members be able to network with each other — people within each of these groups will be able to network amongst each other around areas of shared interest.”

To register and find out more about travel funding, click here:


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