Release Date: 
Tuesday, March 26, 2024

5th annual Black Male Retention, Success, and Best Practices Conference April 19

Event Date: 
Fri, 04/19/2024 - 8:00am to 5:00pm
Location: 
Andrew A. Mazzara Administrative Services & Conference Center (ASCC) (Building L) Forfa Auditorium
Headshot of Dr. Akil Houston.
Dr. Akil Houston of Ohio State University will be the keynote speaker at HFC's 5th annual Black Male Retention, Success, and Best Practices Conference on Friday, April 19. The theme of this year’s conference is “Children of the Diaspora Educate through the Word: Refinement, Knowledge, and the Art of Hip Hop.”

Please join us for this free conference on the main Henry Ford College campus on Friday, April 19. This year's theme is “Children of the Diaspora Educate through the Word: Refinement, Knowledge, and the Art of Hip Hop.”

Initiated in 2019, the purpose of this conference is to continue the statewide conversation to address issues regarding the retention and success of Black males, as well as identify best practices, challenges, and solutions.

This conference has been designed to establish clear academic success pathways from high schools to community colleges, as well as 4-year educational institutions and beyond. High school counselors and teachers, college faculty members, admissions representatives, and administrators will be onsite during the conference to address concerns regarding financial aid, college readiness, college transfers, résumé writing, and other issues pertaining to academic success.

Sessions will be designed with the intent to address the specific needs of students based on their academic locations. Pathways are uniquely designed for individuals preparing for college and individuals who are currently enrolled in college.

Learn more about the "why" and "what" of this conference in the sections below.

How to participate

  • This April 19 conference is free and open to the public.
  • The conference will be held at the Andrew A. Mazzara Administrative Services & Conference Center (ASCC) (Bldg. L) on the main campus.
  • Ample free parking is available near the building.
  • Please register by Friday, April 5

What is this conference about, and why should I attend?

The HFC Black Male & QUEENS Focus Group (BMQFG) will host its 5th annual Black Male Retention, Success, and Best Practices Conference Friday, April 19, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Andrew A. Mazzara Administrative Services & Conference Center (ASCC) (Bldg. L) on the main campus.

Prominent Ohio-based educator Dr. Akil Houston of Ohio State University will be the keynote speaker. The theme of this year’s conference is “Children of the Diaspora Educate through the Word: Refinement, Knowledge, and the Art of Hip Hop.”

“Education can be delivered through multiple mediums. While traditional conference proposals are gladly accepted, special consideration is given to proposals informed by the creative hip hop musicians and other visual and oral artists to join in the storytelling of hip hop culture and its use in educating the masses,” said BMQFG founder and faculty advisor Dr. Kalvin DaRonne Harvell, who teaches sociology at HFC.

Celebrating 50 years of hip hop

In 2023, professionals and critics in and out of the music industry observed the 50th anniversary of hip hop. These tributes contained both praise and criticism of the musical genre, and it is necessary to contextualize hip hop’s place in the musical landscape by appreciating its historical significance and the creativity and self-determination that underscore hip hop culture and reflect the brilliance of Black people.

Historically, hip hop, in its infancy and before it was exploited for capitalistic gains, was maligned by critics who sought to define, defame, and devalue the music and its artists through words and deeds without really understanding the behavior and perspectives of those within hip hop culture. Rather than dismiss this criticism, scholars must remember and study them to understand the politics of “othering” and the attempts to police speech by normalizing or silencing music creators outside the mainstream.

In a broader context, people who create music for themselves have always generated problems for critics who believe that all artists should come from one cultural orientation, and their musical creations must be sanctioned by gatekeepers in this monolithic culture to achieve legitimacy.

“Fortunately for hip hop artists and fans, the legitimacy of hip hop emanated from its indigeneity and did not need permission to be born,” said Harvell.

Hip hop originated from the dispersion and continuity of African cultural oral traditions. In 1990, S.O. Boadu wrote: “Oral artistry serves three broad purposes: ritual, entertainment, and education.” These three functions are not mutually exclusive and are demonstrated through the ceremonial continuity of hip hop as a complex mediator of reflective, predictive, self-defining, and counter-storytelling art.

Centering on the importance of the art of words as manifested through the oral tradition, this year’s conference is centered on the liberatory praxis of gaining voice and discovering the word, gaining clarity of voice through words, and using words to build communities.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Akil Houston

Dr. Akil Houston is the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Chief Diversity Officer of the College of Dentistry at OSU. He provides strategic vision and leadership to advance the OSU College of Dentistry's mission to forge diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities, cultures, and climates. Houston has partnered with leaders across OSU to create a strategic plan and policies to produce measurable goals and outcomes that reflect standards of excellence in recruiting and retaining diverse faculty, staff, and students. A critical function of his work is to support students’ academic success and identify and address barriers to opportunity and inclusion.

Previously, Houston was associate professor of cultural and media studies in the Department of African American Studies at Ohio University for more than 12 years. Houston earned his bachelor’s degree in mass media arts from Clark Atlanta University in Georgia. He is a three-time alumnus of Ohio University, where he earned his master’s degree in international affairs, his MFA degree in film, and his Ph.D. in cultural studies.

Houston's research areas include African American Studies, Educational Philosophy, Africana Womanism and Black Feminism(s), Cinema Studies, Cultural Studies, and Hip Hop Culture. In addition to numerous scholarly articles, he is the editor and primary author of the award-winning 2005-13 series of textbooks called Beyond Blackface: Africana Images in U.S. Media and 2017’s The 21st Century Africana Media Studies Reader.

He also served as a contributing author of the following:

  • Empathy and the Imagination-Intellect: Writings of Healing and Resistance
  • The Cultural Impact of Kanye West
  • Higher Learning: Hip Hop in the Ivory Tower
  • An OutKast Reader: Essays on Race, Gender and the Postmodern South
  • Anti-Racist Discussion Pedagogy Guide

In 2013, Houston was named one of Ohio's 25 Top African-American Educators. In 2020, he earned the Educational Leadership Award from JV Educational Consultants in West Bloomfield. His commentary has been featured on NPR, BBC The Huffington Post, The Grio Politics, The Atlantic, and other media outlets.

Harvell is looking forward to having Houston return to HFC. Houston was the inaugural speaker when the conference was founded five years ago.

“We are excited to have Dr. Houston return to the College for the fifth anniversary of this conference. Dr. Houston is the quintessential scholar, who demonstrates his commitment to excellence through both words and deeds,” said Harvell. “During this year of power and refinement, Dr. Houston will again use his words and presence to guide us to the sublime knowledge and understanding needed to obtain our academic goals. As a founding member of the Black Male Focus Group [before it became BMQFG] – while we were both in graduate school – Dr. Houston remains grounded in the tradition of Ujima (collective work and responsibility) and continues to support the BMQFG. Dr. Houston is indispensable to the success of the BMQFG, and I continue to seek his wise counsel as we collectively prepare our scholars for greatness!”

Conference Purpose

The main conference theme will reflect the larger goal of the symposium, which is the nurturing of a statewide network dedicated to the study and development of best practices designed to enhance the college success and graduation rates of Black students (not just males, but all students).

Initiated in 2019, the purpose of this conference is to continue the statewide conversation to address issues regarding the retention and success of Black males, as well as identify best practices, challenges, and solutions.

This conference has been designed to establish clear academic success pathways from high schools to community colleges, as well as 4-year educational institutions and beyond. High school counselors and teachers, college faculty members, admissions representatives, and administrators will be onsite during the conference to address concerns regarding financial aid, college readiness, college transfers, résumé writing, and other issues pertaining to academic success.

Sessions will be designed with the intent to address the specific needs of students based on their academic locations. Pathways are uniquely designed for individuals preparing for college and individuals who are currently enrolled in college.

“This year’s BMQFG Conference will provide inspirational sessions and opportunities for attendees to network and share with their fellow conference participants," said HFC Henry Ford II Honors Program Director Chardin Claybourne. "We are excited to have Dr. Huston return as our keynote speaker; we anticipate this being another wonderful, educational event at HFC.”

Conference Goals

The overall conference goal will be to establish a statewide network dedicate to the improvement of the academic success of Black students by creating a workable plan of action.

Other goals include:

  • Identifying best practices (Black retention and academic success).
  • Connecting students with mentors in their fields (interdisciplinary conference).
  • Connecting students with transfer institutions and identifying people and organizations to assist in the transfer process.
  • Assembling students, scholars, program coordinators, administrators, parents, grandparents, entrepreneurs, engineers, and more (i.e., the community), and all stakeholders who are concerned about the academic success of Black students.
  • Creating an identifiable network of educators who are willing to assist students and parents in navigating the college arena (i.e., connecting with counselors, campus, tours, finding resources, et al).

There will be a wide range of informational sessions designed to enhance the collective academic impact of Black students. We are seeking sessions that address the following issues, but will not be limited to the following issues:

  • History of Black education
  • Artistic productions
  • Black participation in the STEM and STEAM fields
  • Black history
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurial ventures
  • Black male retention (best practices)
  • Spirituality
  • Afrocentrism
  • Black studies

HFC nursing student and longtime BMQFG member Vanessa Newton is looking forward to attending this conference.

“In addition to the inspirational and informative sessions, this conference provides opportunities to network with individuals already in your field of study and create direct connections with representatives from 4-year universities that honor the Michigan Transfer Agreement with HFC. I’ve been attending the BMQFG conferences for the last three years and I’ve always been able to make a connection or glean information from each of them,” said Newton.

Register by April 5

This conference is free and open to the public. Please register by Friday, April 5

For questions or more information, contact any of the following:

Dr. Kalvin DaRonne Harvell
313-317-1533
kharvell@hfcc.edu

Mr. Chardin Claybourne
313-845-9818
cclaybourne@hfcc.edu

Dr. Courtney Matthews
313-845-6457
cahenderson2@hfcc.edu

Conference Schedule

Friday, April 19, 2024 8:00 am
Strolling Breakfast/Registration/Building (Networking)

Opening Ceremony/Declaration of Sacred Space 8:25: am
Elizabeth Ezeoke – BMQFG (Future Engineer – Henry Ford College)
Dr. Kalvin DaRonne Harvell (Keeper of the Tradition/Coordinator of the BMQFG)

Concurrent Sessions Knowledge 9:00 – 9:50 a.m.
Session A: Ujima Forfa Auditorium Session Title
Real Outreach: Helping African American Males Succeed in College
Session Track
College Success Academy
Session Presenter
Dr. Ezella McPherson
Dr. McPherson Coaching, LLC
Session Description
The Real Outreach workshop will focus on supporting African American male collegians using research, a retention framework, and case examples from practical experiences. Research shows that there is currently a racial attainment gap, with Blacks ages 25 and older earning 7,921,000 bachelors’ degrees and Whites earning 59,964,000 bachelors’ degrees since 2001 (Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 2022). Equally as important, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2023), from 2012-2022, the percentage of the Black population ages 25 and older to obtain a bachelor’s degree increased from “21.2% to 27.6%” (p. 2). In an effort to narrow this achievement gap, research on the barriers that Black male collegians endure incollege will be discussed in the workshop. The Real Outreach™ retention framework will be shared along with case examples from personal experiences successfully working with Black male collegians who are now college graduates. Attendees of this workshop will leave with practical strategies and action steps in order to help Black male collegians to succeed in college and graduate.

Session B: Nia Berry Auditorium Session Title
College Planning Session – What you need to KNOW!

Session Track
College Success Academy

Session Presenter
Representatives from Oakland University

Session Description
We welcome representatives from Oakland University as they teach us how to navigate the college admissions process.

Session C: Umoja Rosenau Room Session Title Starting My College Journey/Continuing My College Journey: Virtual Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Tour

Session Track College Preparatory Academy and College Success Academy

Session Presenters LaShawnda R. Swanigan Associate Director Undergraduate Admissions and Enrollment Management Florida A & M University

Aaron Cork Admissions Recruiter/Counselor University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Andre R. Hill Director of Transfer Services Admissions and Recruitment Elizabeth City State University

Session Description We welcome representatives from HBCUs as they share admissions/transfer information about their respective institutions.

Concurrent Session: Wisdom 10:00-10:50 am

Session A: Kujichagulia Forfa Auditorium

Session Title Reclaiming Ancestral Knowledge, Identity, and Joy in Education for Black and Brown Students

Session Track College Preparatory Academy and College Success Academy

Session Presenters Dr. Chantelle Yancy, Supervisor for Educational Equity, Inclusion, and Community Relations – Troy School District

Mr. Cornelius Godfrey, Diversity & Equity Consultant, Climate and Culture – Oakland Schools

Ms. Sonja James, Executive Director of Educational Equity and Inclusion – West Bloomfield School District

Mr. Gregory Smith, Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion - Farmington Public Schools

Mrs. Carla Young, Director of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access – Cranbrook Schools

Session Description Our proposed panel discussion/workshop model aims to delve into the critical intersection of ancestral knowledge, identity, and joy in education for Black and Brown students. By exploring the significance, derivation, and necessity of

incorporating ancestral knowledge and identity into educational practices, we seek to humanize our educational system and create more equitable learning environments. This session will highlight the gap in representation of these crucial elements, particularly for marginalized and minoritized students, and provide a platform for participants to reflect on their lived experiences within education. We aim to humanize education and create more equitable learning environments for all students. Session B: Ujima Berry Auditorium Session Title College Transfer Session! What you need to KNOW!

Session Track College Success Academy

Session Presenters Representatives from Oakland University

Session Description We welcome representatives from Oakland University as they teach us how to navigate the college transfer process. Session C: Umoja Rosenau Rooms Session Title optiMize/aMplify Project: BIPOC Transfer Students Connections

Session Track: College Preparatory Academy and College Success Academy

Session Presenters Dallas McGhee-Henry (University of Michigan Ann Arbor) Alanna Grace-Marie Schwartz (University of Michigan Ann Arbor) Alicia Jackson (University of Michigan Ann Arbor) Shantasia King (University of Michigan Ann Arbor)

Session Description optiMize is a student-led organization that offers entrepreneurial support for students in the transformation of their ideas into promising social justice initiatives. aMplify is an essential piece to this organization, curating connections through transfer

community nights. Our Transfer Bridge initiatives connect us deeply with Henry Ford College and other Michigan community colleges. As transfer fellows, we created this project to enhance the experiences of Black and other students of color at the University of Michigan. We are combatting and deconstructing harmful stereotypes while providing resources to help students feel comfortable on campus so that we can study with fewer feelings of isolation or indifference. Students of color deserve equitable education of our histories and fair treatment. We plan on connecting with other organizations to create a web of transfer connections for Black students and students of color.

Concurrent Sessions Understanding 11:00-11:50

Session A: Kuumba Atrium

Session Presenters: Organizations! College For Creative Studies Oakland University Henry Ford College – Black Male & QUEENS Focus Group University of Michigan University of Michigan (optiMize) Ferris State University Wayne State University Alabama State University Detroit Promise – Henry Ford College Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I) Henry Ford College – School of Health Sciences Detroit River Wildlife Rescue Refuge

*Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses – Detroit Providing Blood Glucose Screenings Throughout the Day!!!!

Session Description Please spend time visiting the various organizations located in the Atrium of the conference center.

Session B: Kujichagulia Rosenau A & B

Session Title The Black History I Didn’t Learn in School

Session Track College Preparatory Academy and College Success Academy

Session Presenters Elizabeth Ezeoke (Black Male & QUEENS Focus Group – HFC) Diondra Harmon (Black Male & QUEENS Focus Group – HFC) Azalea Jones (Black Male & QUEENS Focus Group – Alumnus) Vanessa Newton (Black Male & QUEENS Focus Group – HFC) Ruby Smith (Black Male & QUEENS Focus Group – HFC)

Session Moderator Dr. Courtney Matthews English Department – SOLA Black Male & QUEENS Focus Group (Leadership) Henry Ford College

Session Description: A critical analysis of the production, transmission, and attempts to control the history of Black people. Session C: Ujima Rosenau C Session Title Wayne State University – Undergraduate Admissions

Session Track College Preparatory Academy and College Success Academy

Session Presenter Ms. Adanna N. Smith Undergraduate Admissions Counselor Wayne State University

Session Description We welcome representatives from Wayne State University to share admissions/transfer information. Session D: Umoja Berry Auditorium Session Title HBCU Virtual Tour

Session Track College Preparatory Academy & College Success Academy

Session Presenter Lance Smith Assistant Director of Recruitment Harris-Stowe State University

Session Description: We welcome representatives from Harris-Stowe State University to share admissions/transfer information.

Lunch Culture 12:00- 2:00

Please Join us in the Forfa Auditorium For Lunch (overflow into the Berry Auditorium and Rosenau Rooms - Keynote Live Streaming)!
SANKOFA
Conference Theme: Children of the Diaspora Educate through the Word: Refinement, Knowledge & the Art of Hip Hop.
Keynote SpeaKer: Dr. Akil Houston

Akil Houston, Ph.D., is the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Chief Diversity Officer of the College of Dentistry at The Ohio State University. As AD and CDO, Dr. Houston provides strategic vision and leadership to advance the college's mission to forge diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities, cultures, and climates. In this role, Dr. Houston partners with the Dean of the college, the executive leadership team, staff leadership, and all academic units to create a strategic plan and policies that produce measurable goals and outcomes that reflect standards of excellence in recruiting and retaining diverse faculty, staff, and students. A critical function of his work is to support student's academic success and identify and address barriers to opportunity and inclusion. Before joining the senior leadership team at The Ohio State College of Dentistry, Dr. Houston was an associate professor of Cultural and Media Studies in the Department of African American Studies at Ohio University.

Dr. Houston's research areas include African American Studies, Educational Philosophy, Africana Womanism and Black Feminism(s), Cinema Studies, Cultural Studies, and Hip Hop Culture. In addition to numerous scholarly articles, he is the editor and primary author of the award-winning Beyond Blackface: Africana Images in U.S. Media textbook series (2005-13) and The 21st Century Africana Media Studies Reader (2017). Dr. Houston is also a contributing author of Empathy and the Imagination-Intellect: Writings of Healing and Resistance (2013), The Cultural Impact of Kanye West (2014), Higher Learning: Hip Hop in the Ivory Tower (2019), An OutKast Reader: Essays on Race, Gender and the Postmodern South (2021)and coauthor of the Anti-Racist Discussion Pedagogy guide (2020). In 2013, he was named one of Ohio's 25 top African American educators and received the Educational Leadership Award from JV Educational Consultants in 2020.

Dr. Houston's commentary has been featured on NPR, BBC, Vice, The Huffington Post, The Griot Politics, The Atlantic, The Fair Observer, and other media outlets.

Concurrent Sessions Refinement 2:00-2:50 pm Session A: Kujichagulia Forfa Auditorium Session Title Formula 734: Building Community Through Hip Hop Cultural Production Session Track College Preparatory Academy and College Success Academy Session Presenters Dr. Rod Wallace Eastern Michigan University Washtenaw Community College Jamall Buford Director of Washtenaw County My Brother’s Keeper Micheal Henry Producer Formula 734 Documentary Session Description Men of color in Washtenaw County face enormous income inequality and systemic obstacles in educational systems despite the county's reputation as safe and educationally progressive. Formula 734 is an initiative constructed by Washtenaw County My Brother's Keeper and supported by civic and educational entities that uses Hip Hop as a sociological perspective and as a set of collaborative practices to grow youth self-awareness and academic and career skill development. By engaging in deep reflection about their lives and futures through music creation, young men of color are able to increase their knowledge of self, decrease recidivism, and experience joy.

Session B: Nia Rosenau Rooms
Session Title Taking K-12 Neurodiversity to School to Prevent Year-1 Negative College SAP Session Track College Preparatory Academy Presenter M. Chiquita McKenzie Davenport University Urban Graduate Student Education Professional Session Description This session seeks to discuss untangling aspects of assumed inability of U.S. students with origins from the African Diaspora. In understanding historical educational stratification, a historical comparison of aligned legal experiences will be presented which unintentionally strengthened diaspora-black persons. Taking neurodiversity to school includes 5th – 12th grade, determining brain activity, applying diverse methods for inclusive equity in learning. These overlapping academic aspects focus on mainstream neurodiverse minds. Aspects of achievement include reading, grasping terms, understanding context of sentences, conversations and withdrawing application of data placed into a child’s brain via classroom differentiation. behavior of neurodiversity diaspora students can revamp classroom learning hubs throughout.

Final Session Build 3:00-3:30
Closing Session: Imani Forfa Auditorium
Speaker: Kalvin DaRonne Harvell, Ph.D., Ed.S. Black Male & QUEENS Focus Group Sociology Department