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Sept. 19, 2008
CONTACT: Pamela Young
pyoung@emich.edu 734.487.4400

Conference to explore school, societal issues facing African American females

YPSILANTI — Women play a strong role in the African American Community but they face a variety of complex issues and challenges, especially in urban and near urban encloses in Michigan. To explore these issues, Eastern Michigan University’s College of Education will host “Nurturing Our Future As African American Females: A Courageous Conversation,” a day-long conference, Friday, Sept. 26, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at EMU’s Student Center.

“There are many challenges facing African American girls, such as crime, poverty, negative images, poor self-esteem and peer pressure,” said Vernon Polite, dean of EMU’s College of Education. “Inequities such as dropout rates, expulsion rates and teen-pregnancy rates raise barriers to educational excellence. Given the size and scope of the dilemmas in Michigan, we believe these issues have to be addressed.”

Sessions on problem solving and special sessions for high school students will run 10 a.m. – noon and 1 – 3:30 p.m. A reception follows from 4-6 p.m.

Keynote speaker, Sonia Sanchez, a poet, activist, professor and international lecturer on black culture and literature, is scheduled for  8:30 a.m.

A sponsor of the Women’s International League for Peach and Freedom, Sanchez has written more than 16 books, including “Shake Loose My Skin.”  Sanchez is contributing editor to Black Scholar and the Journal of African Studies and has edited two anthologies.

Among her many awards are the National Endowment for the Arts Lucretia Mott Award, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women; the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities; the Poetry Society of America’s 2001 Robert Frost Medal and was named a Ford Freedman Scholar from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Her poetry was also featured in the movie, Love Jones.

“This is an important conference. We must help African American females by developing policies, programs and services that ensure their needs are being understood and fully met,” said Polite. “There is a need to consider solutions in the firm of educational imperatives and initiatives to positively affect the African American communities of the State.”

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