Engage, Educate, Empower: Men of Color Conference


The goal of this free conference is to create a meaningful dialogue around expanding the pipeline of college admission and success among men of color in Philadelphia. Emphasis will be placed on conversations that engage, educate and empower through a lens of care and equity, while acting to advance education at local, regional and national levels.


Conference Schedule

Registration Opens at 8:30 a.m.
Dr. Molefi Kete Asante
Keynote Address with Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, 9:45 to 10:30 a.m.
Professor, Department of Africology, Temple University; President, Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies; Professor, University of South Africa

Molefi Kete Asante is Professor, Department of Africology, at Temple University in Philadelphia. He is the President of the Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies. Asante is Professor Extraordinarius at the University of South Africa. He is the Founder of the Journal of Black Studies and first director of UCLA’s Center for Afro-American Studies. Asante, often called the most prolific African American scholar, has published 100 books, among the most recent are Being Human Being: Transforming the Race Discourse with Nah Dove;  The Perilous Center, or When Will the African Center Hold;  Radical Insurgencies; The History of Africa, 3rd Edition; An Afrocentric Pan Africanist Vision; The African American People: A Global History;  Erasing Racism: The Survival of the American Nation; Revolutionary Pedagogy; African American History: A Journey of Liberation; African Pyramids of Knowledge; Maulana Karenga: An Intellectual Portrait; Facing South to Africa; and the memoir, As I Run Toward Africa. Asante has published more than 500 articles and is considered one of the most quoted living African authors as well as one of the most distinguished thinkers in the African world. He has been recognized as one of the 10 most widely cited African scholars. Asante has been recognized as one of the most influential leaders in education. He has been named a HistoryMaker with an interview in the Library of Congress. In 2019 the National Communication Association named him an NCA Distinguished Scholar, its highest honor, saying that his writings were “spectacular and profound.” He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, at the age of 26, and was appointed a full professor at the age of 30 at the State University of New York at Buffalo. At Temple University he created the first Ph.D. program in African American Studies in 1988. He has directed more than 140 Ph.D. dissertations, making him the top producer of doctorates among African American scholars. He is the founder of the theory of Afrocentricity, The Cheikh Anta Diop Conference, and the think-tank, The Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies in Philadelphia. Asante wrote the mandatory African American History course for Philadelphia School District. 



Morning Breakout Sessions, 10:45 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Career Readiness and the Economy of Tomorrow

Learning Track: Education Leaders

Presenter: Dr. Keith Benson, President, Camden Education Association; Co-founder, Working Together, LLC

As the language of college and career readiness continues to permeate American public education, the fixation on preparing students for college and careers is potentially harmful for students, particularly urban students of color. In promoting college and career readiness, certain assumptions are taken for granted: that American schools are sites of egalitarian meritocracy and not spaces of social reproduction; that tomorrow's job market desires more individuals with formal education, and that the jobs market will be viable for tomorrow's willing workers. Here, I argue that as college and career readiness continues to be the dominant approach in American schools, it ignores the realities that the workplace of tomorrow is growing harsher as corporations continue their efforts to maximize profits by keeping labor costs low by reducing worker participation and seeking cheaper labor. Simultaneously, students of color are more vulnerable to tomorrow's workplace in that they continue to experience racial discrimination coupled with the growing tenuous nature of the future domestic job market. Thus, students who are being schooled in college and career readiness have to contend with the possibility that, though they are more formally educated, the economy of tomorrow may still deem them expendable.

Hip Hop History and Ethics: Culturally Relevant Character Education and the Missing Piece

Learning Track: Education Leaders

Presenter: Brady Goodwin

In the 1980s and 90s, the values being broadcast from media to culture raised concerns about the future of the next generation. However, with the advent of social media in the late 2000s, it has become nearly impossible to tell where media ends and culture begins. Not surprisingly, more than a few parents today find themselves struggling to help teens develop critical thinking skills and exhibit ethical behavior that rises above egoism. Whatever the traditional role of secondary education has been in helping to inculcate societal norms, it has become paramount that conversations concerning values enter the classroom. And it just so happens that a critical analysis of Hip Hop culture offers a prime opportunity to engage inner-city youth, in particular, with this character education in a culturally relevant way. More than just a musical style, Hip Hop is a culture that has been commercialized and exported worldwide, impacting countless other cultures in the process. Now spanning two generations, Hip Hop has been around long enough to be studied academically through the lens of social science, and to provide ample case studies for lessons in character and cultural development. To this end, a cross-disciplinary course has been created to close the gap and transfer the institutional memory of civilization that has helped countless other societies to flourish throughout the world. This course mergers black history, American history, literature, sociology and philosophy to challenge and strengthen the mind of participants (student and teacher alike), and not just the mind, but the whole person along with the communities in which participants live.

You Good, Bro?!

Learning Track: Students

Presenter: Jasmin Spain, Assistant Vice President of Student Support, Pitt Community College; Founder & President, U Good Bro, Inc.; Founder & Chief Visionary Officer, The M.A.I.N. Initiative LLC

U Good, Bro?!, Incorporated is a solution-focused, nonprofit entity, designed to provide a private, safe and brave space for transparency, vulnerability, and liberation. It's a space where it's okay to say that you're not okay, but also a space for sheer accountability. The U Good, Bro?! experiences are with like-minded Brothers from across the country, in the sense of creating a non-judgmental zone with those who fellowship and embrace the realities of being a Man, while strategizing on how to navigate through critical areas that are essential for us to be better examples of what healthy manhood is. We operate from the hashtag #MENtalHEALthMoveMENt, where if you read between the lines, the emphasis is that MEN HEAL MEN. We would like to agree that the goal is when someone asks you, U Good, Bro?!, you can say yes and actually mean it!

Grow Through What You Go Through

Learning Track: Students

Presenter: Ismail Amir, Owner and CEO, iAM Legend LLC

Grow Through What You Go Through is a facilitator-led forum designed to engage students in thought provoking discussion regarding the gift of self reflection, perseverance, vulnerability, and the benefits of goal-setting, collaboration, and accountability. Participants will leave the session with a heightened sense of self, and steps for how to overcome the challenges and obstacles presented by life.

Best Foot Forward: Self-Marketing and How to Land the Job

Learning Track: Students

Presenter: Keith Lewis, F&BM Lead, JP Morgan Chase

In this session, students will learn the importance of marketing themselves early. In an age of social media, students need to make sure that they are aligning platforms with their résumés, cover letters and presentation when interviewing. Students will understand how long recruiters review their résumés and have the opportunity to see how current résumés look, and the importance of creating white space, simplifying their résumés and quantifying information on it. We will then look at LinkedIn and Glassdoor pages to learn how to build a page. Finally, we will talk about interview questions to ask, skill builders and much more.

The Purpose Pusha: Steps to Stop Fake Flexing and Discover Purpose

Learning Track: Students

Presenter: Terrence Jones, Director of Academic Enrichment, Peirce College

This presentation explores the journey of finding purpose as a male student of color and the critical role it plays in their academic and personal success. Recognizing the specific challenges faced by male students of color in higher education, this presentation aims to empower and inspire students to discover their purpose and maximize their potential. We will begin by acknowledging the intersectionality of race and gender, and the unique experiences and pressures faced by male students of color, then delve into the notion of purpose and its significance in shaping one's educational and life trajectory. Drawing on research and personal narratives, we will highlight the importance of purpose in driving motivation, resilience, and overall well-being. Through a series of interactive discussions and engaging activities, participants will be encouraged to reflect on their personal values, strengths, and passions. We will explore the concept of purpose, considering how it relates to their academic, career, and personal goals. The presentation will also provide strategies and resources to help male students of color navigate the challenges they may encounter along their journey towards finding purpose. Moreover, the presentation emphasizes the importance of mentorship and support networks in the pursuit of purpose. Students will benefit from practical guidance on building connections, seeking mentorship, and accessing available resources on campus and in the community. We will also discuss the paradox of choice and bring an awareness to the impact our choices have on our outcomes. This concept will be bridged with the William Bridges transition model that reveals how our capacity to make the right choice is largely influenced by the stage of transition that we are currently in. By the end of the presentation, participants will have a deeper understanding of the significance of purpose in their lives and the tools necessary to explore and define their own sense of purpose. They will be equipped with strategies to overcome obstacles, navigate identity challenges, and leverage their unique perspectives as assets in their academic and personal journeys. Ultimately, the presentation aims to inspire male students of color to embrace their potential, cultivate their passions, and find their sense of purpose, thereby fostering personal growth, academic achievement, and long-term success.

Emotional Freedom through Expressive Arts

Learning Track: Students

Presenter: Jamar Jones, Founder, Jamar Jones Institute

This is an expressive arts presentation on emotional freedom as a key component of engagement, education, and empowerment. The presenter, Jamar Jones, will leverage his extensive experience in the music industry, higher education, and spiritual leadership to deliver a unique and impactful session that combines instrumental music and a compelling lecture. Participants will develop a deeper understanding of their emotions and the importance of effectively expressing them in a healthy manner, and gain insights into their own emotional experiences, enabling them to identify and address them. The presentation will foster a sense of unity and support among men of color by creating a safe space for sharing and connecting through shared emotional experiences.

Finding Success as a Black Man on Campus

Learning Track: Students

Facilitator: Dr. Wayne Williams, Associate Professor of Instruction, Fox School of Business at Temple University

During this panel discussion, attendees will hear from Black male college students enrolled at institutions throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. Panelists will share their stories around how they surmounted the various obstacles that have come their way and threatened to jeopardize their chances of successfully navigating their college careers.

Paying for College

Learning Track: Students

Presenter: TBD

From scholarships to federal and state aid, there are a lot of opportunities available for students to cover the cost of school. This session will focus on arming prospective and current college students with insight around how to strategically finance the cost of college.



Lunch, 12 to 1 p.m.



Afternoon Breakout Sessions, 1:10 to 2:25 p.m.

Is Teaching Enough?

Learning Track: Education Leaders

Presenter: Dr. Keith Benson, President, Camden Education Association; Co-founder, Working Together, LLC

Expansive literature explores the divergent cultures between urban teachers, their students, and the communities in which they work. Research suggests racial, cultural, social, and linguistic disconnects between urban schools and communities yields adversarial relationships between urban public school systems and their communities. Conversely, other research points to the positive impacts of urban teachers employing critical pedagogy for their traditionally marginalized students; school-based activism's potential for improving academic outcomes and feelings of agency among low income minority students; and the potential for urban teachers to practice social justice advocacy on behalf of their students. What is less explored, however, is the concept of urban educators advocating for societal change beyond the walls of the schoolhouse to resist oppressive conditions present in the communities where they teach for the betterment of the outside community. The impact community environments have on local school quality and student outcomes is well documented in educational research, yet what is much less explored is what community residents expect of their educators in positively impacting the school community in non-school-bound efforts. The aim of this presentation is to explore and unpack the role of urban teachers as partners and advocates in community efforts toward social justice from the residents' perspectives. And in highlighting Camden residents' views, this research seeks to explore, whether or not, in economically and sociopolitical depressed urban areas like Camden, is teaching, alone, enough?

Black Men and The War on Hunger

Learning Track: Students

Presenter: Jenavia Weaver, Director, Student Engagement, Community College of Philadelphia

The Pew Research Center's most recent report indicates that "the Black population of the United States is growing." In 2021, there were an estimated 47.2 million people who self-identified as Black, representing 14.2% of the country's population. This marks a 30% increase since 2000. This group consists of people with varied racial and ethnic identities and experiences. According to Feeding America, in 2020, 24% of Black individuals experienced food insecurity, which was more than three times the rate of white households. The Black community consistently faces high rates of hunger due to social, economic, and environmental challenges. To address the high rates of food insecurity amongst Black people, many people in the Black community are returning to their agricultural roots to ensure their neighbors have access to nutrient-rich foods. The U.S. Census said the number of black-operated farms, like the total number of U.S. farms, declined 3 percent between 2012 and 2017, when black producers operated 35,470 farms. In 2017, the U.S. had 48,697 producers who identified as Black, accounting for 1.4 percent of the country's 3.4 million producers, and they lived and farmed primarily in southeastern and mid-Atlantic states. Their farms were smaller and the value of their agriculture sales was less than 1 percent of the U.S. total of $1.4 billion. Never be hungry again! Start where you are. Urban agriculture includes the cultivating, processing and distribution of agricultural products in urban and suburban areas through community gardens, rooftop farms, hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic facilities, and vertical production. Plant a seed and put food on your table. Participants will learn how to build raised beds, plant and grow in any setting—apartments, homes, limited space, or any space. You, your family, your children and your community WILL NEVER BE HUNGRY AGAIN!

First-year Experiences of Black male Commuter Students

Learning Track: Education Leaders

Presenter: Chappelle Washington Freer, Founder, Dr. Mommy, LLC

Qualitative research on the first-year experiences of Black male commuter students entering institutions of higher learning is necessary to provide a deeper look at institutional and individual factors that these students may experience, which impact their academic success. Understanding the issues that affect Black male college students in achieving success in their first year of college is crucial to refining support programs at the post-secondary level. The role of the first-year experience in Black male college student success is explored in this research study, through the participants' own words and experiences. This phenomenological study examined the students lived experiences and identified issues and supports that Black male commuter students encountered during their first year in the ACT101 program at a private, four-year, predominantly White institution (PWI). Ten interviews were conducted with students, and additional interviews were conducted with administration and staff. Results support the need to provide access to pre-college socialization via summer bridge programs prior to college enrollment, with both financial and academic support throughout the undergraduate experience. Support programs should be informed by Strayhorn's (2018) approach to sense of belonging and Harper's (2010) Anti-Deficit Achievement Model, to enhance the success of Black male commuter students.

Taboo Topics

Learning Track: Students

Presenter: Gregory Nelson, Catto Scholars Success Coach, Community College of Philadelphia

The purpose and goal of this session is to shed light and offer perspective on some of the taboo topics prevalent in the Black male community. There are topics in the Black male space that are heavily influenced by pop culture, social media, and generalized stereotypes. Men of color are already exposed to and must navigate through various outside factors that affect our experience, so it is up to us to help each other address the things we may battle within. Research shows that men feel pressure to conform to traditional gender norms such as toughness, fearlessness, and invulnerability to pain. Unfortunately, many Black men often suffer in silence because fears of being vulnerable go against masculinity ideals. The goal of the panel is to offer different perspectives on the same topic. We want to create the space for diverse perspectives on what it means to be a man, defined by men who experienced similar struggles. Topics we will cover include: Redefining soft/Black male masculinity (What defines masculinity? What do you feel like makes you a man?), imposter syndrome, healthy relationships, and quarter-life Crisis—emerging adulthood. This presentation will raise awareness that it is okay to not fit the standard "male" prototype, promote critical self-reflection, encourage community engagement/safe spaces, and encourage continued dialogue.

Restorative Justice 360

Learning Track: Education Leaders

Presenter: Cathia Thomas, Founder an Director, Thomas Center for Learning

The intent of this session is to bring restorative consciousness and its supporting practices into self, family, community and the workplace. This highly interactive session is an invaluable resource for restorative practitioners working across sectors including education, social services, youth offending or policy. The idea of restorative justice is not just restoring it in the school, but reaching back into the community, working inside and out, deepening nonviolent communication and restorative justice practices. Everyone is connected, and when someone hurts someone else, it affects the victim and the community as a whole (Butigan, 2013). Join Cat Thomas and guest panelists in a real conversation about the skills and resources to strengthen relationships and improve social connections, so that you can drive impactful resolutions and positive outcomes throughout your classrooms, communities, and organizations (Parker-Shandal, 2023).

Two Sides of the Team: Working Collectively to Support Children with Autism

Learning Track: Education Leaders

Presenter: Jamiel Owens, Center of Autism Research (CAR) at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

In response to the CDC's recent Autism prevalence rates in the U.S., that not only specifically addresses the increase in ratio of diagnosed children, 1:36 versus 2020 rates of 1:44, the narrative has been established that the Black and Brown communities are now showing a higher rate of diagnosis. While I am relieved to hear that a community I represent and engage with often has been identified in "fact based" research, there is still a disparity in our communities, not to be charged solely on a particular party, but all of us. As an Autism father, my presentation will speak on the cohesiveness of four points: 1. Family/Caregiver, 2. Educational Support Team, 3. Autistics, and 4. Health Care Providers. Providing a perspective that has often been silent, my presentation will invoke a change in the way "community engagement" is implemented and provided by other organizations either in the health care sector, or other industries across the board.

Community Schools and Businesses

Learning Track: Education Leaders

Presenter: Will Latif, Founder and Life Coach, Personal Development Family

Community schools and businesses play a vital role in the development of any society. These entities contribute to the growth of the economy and help in building a strong social fabric, however, there is a need to change the way community schools and businesses operate to make them more effective and efficient. This presentation will focus on changes that can be implemented to make community schools and businesses more impactful, including: Increase funding—provide more funding to enable them to improve the quality of services they provide, increase outreach—use social media and other platforms to reach out to a wider audience, train staff—invest in training their staff to improve the quality of services they provide, and ptimize resource utilization—optimize the use of resources available to them to improve their effectiveness. Community schools and businesses play an essential role in the development of any society, however, they face several challenges that limit their impact. By implementing the changes suggested in this presentation, community schools and businesses can become more effective and efficient, thereby contributing to the growth of the economy and society.

Taney Street: WTF

Learning Track: Students

Presenter: Dr. Donald Guy Generals, President, Community College of Philadelphia

How is it possible that Philadelphia continues to honor the person who's actions and name embodies the very idea of white supremacy with a street named after him? Roger Taney was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during The Dred Scott decision. His majority decision famously stated that "no Black man has a right that a white man must respect." Those words and that decision compared Blacks to property. The decision would reinforce slavery and foreshadow the racism that continues to affect the United States. The decision set the country on the path toward the Civil War, which was viewed as the only way to end slavery. Octavius Catto was an activist during this same period of time. In this presentation, Dr. Generals makes the case that recipients of the Catto scholarship must honor his legacy by forcing the city to change the name of Taney Street.

Playing it too Safe… Underpromised and Overlooked

Learning Track: Education Leaders

Presenter: Dr. Darren Lipscomb, Associate Vice President, Enrollment Management, Community College of Philadelphia

GPA requirements, income level and numerous other considerations meant to support access among students with the most need often leave "middle of the road" students without many opportunities to participate in enrichment-focused programs outside of the classroom. This in itself can serve as a barrier to success among this population. This session will charge attendees with reconsidering how we develop threshholds for participation in enrichment programming to support inclusion beyond our high achievers and students from low income households. This session will serve as an opportunity for attendees to rethink how we support our average student.



Closing Session, 2:30 to 3 p.m., Reverend Dr. Alyn E. Waller, Senior Pastor, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church



About the Conference

Far too often, society's discussions relative to Black and Latine males takes on a deficit-based approach. In Philadelphia, where the Black and Latine male segments jointly account for more than a quarter of the city's population, it is essential that we focus on their strengths and the empowering opportunities that exist within and around these communities. True transformative empowerment requires engagement and education, and this conference aims to do all three.

The goal of this free conference is to create a meaningful dialogue around expanding the pipeline of college admission and success among men of color in Philadelphia. Emphasis will be placed on conversations that engage, educate and empower through a lens of care and equity, while acting to advance education at local, regional and national levels.

The conference’s theme, There Must Come a Change, is in honor of Octavius V. Catto. Born in 1839, Catto was a pioneer and the greatest civil rights leader in post-Civil War Philadelphia. He pledged that Black men would be able to freely vote and worked tirelessly to get Pennsylvania to ratify the 15th Amendment, which was accomplished in October 1870. Tragically, Catto was gunned down in 1871 as he cast his own vote on election day. Today Octavius V. Catto is remembered for progressively leading generations of leaders to fight for and create change. Through the Catto Education Project, there are many schools named in his honor, teachings and workshop classes, and scholarship programs, including Community College of Philadelphia’s Octavius Catto Scholarship. Combining last-dollar funding with special wrap-around support services, the scholarship addresses obstacles like tuition and fees, as well as burdens that hit many Philadelphians particularly hard, including costs associated with food, transportation and books.

In remembering his legacy, this conference will serve as a call to action to make education more accessible, affordable, equitable and inclusive for everyone. It is a call to rise up against the inequitable structures that continue to exist in our educational system.



“There must come a change which shall force upon this nation that course which providence seems wisely to be directing for the mutual benefit of peoples.”

—Octavius V. Catto



By attending this event, you agree to be photographed and/or filmed and give permission to use your likeness in promotional and/or marketing materials.
Community College of Philadelphia welcomes participants with disabilities. If you require an accommodation related to disability to participate in this event, please contact Erica Harrison at 215.751.8941 or eharrison@ccp.edu as soon as possible to allow the College to make appropriate arrangements.