Creating the Future, We Want to See
It is a pleasure to share the proceedings of the virtual 2021 Umoja Annual Conference XVII. The Umoja Conference is a shared experience for insightful and empowering discussions, collaboration, and learning between students, counselors, educators, and community members. This year’s conference highlighted the academic year’s theme, which is a saying by Dr. Mae Jemison. Dr. Jemison said, “The future never just happened…it was created”. This year’s theme supports our commitment to imagining and creating the future that we want, as people and a community. The planning of the Umoja conference uplifted the Umoja practices and ideas that shaped how the Umoja community continually supported Black student success and the sharing of the excellent work and positive impact over this last year.
The three-day Umoja Conference was a gathering of students, practitioners, and keynote speakers, all who helped us to meet our conference goals by presenting, engaging, and connecting with each other. In this communal learning space, we were able to achieve the following outcomes.
Building Community and Communal Intelligence. In Umoja, we are unified by our intelligence and seek opportunities to fellowship through scholarship and become global students and practitioners. At the conference, we cultivated and harvested the intellectual, social, and cultural capital within our Umoja Community as students, practitioners, and community members led critical conversations and indabas. We engaged the community in continuing the conversation about the Black Male Experience and developing a better understanding of the needs of our Black Male students and practitioners. The first annual regional student assembly gave space for Umoja students to discuss with their peers across the state about their academic and professional choices and what is affecting their retention and persistence on college campuses. At the Conference, we also celebrated our programs and community members with our first annual Umoja awards. Congratulations again to all that were nominated by the community; continue to uplift and inspire with your excellent work.
Supporting Acceleration: The African proverb reads that “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In Umoja, we seek new ideas and methods that will allow us to go farther and faster, together. At the conference, we examined ways to positively impact student success and lifetime outcomes. Our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and University of California (UC) partners presented transfer readiness information. Umoja student alumni at our partner schools shared their transfer and campus experiences as well. The conference expo hall included HBCU, UC, and other private and CSU campuses as part of the college fair that allowed Umoja students more opportunities to ask questions and collect transfer information. Opportunities to explore other academic pathways including Career Technical (CTE) Opportunities and STEAM were available through several engaging workshops around robotics leadership, biological and engineering sciences, and a discussion about CTE career and internship opportunities. The community also had the opportunity to be part of an extended session on becoming a global student and practitioner by studying aboard and developing a transformative awareness of our connectedness to the world.
Being Intentional and Deliberate: “In Umoja we deeply value intentional and deliberate purposefulness.” The activities and experiences from being part of the conference encouraged us to take an active role in constructing our future. Every aspect of our conference, including discussions around student activism, career pathways, data storytelling, and identity, intentionally connects to our year’s theme as we took a deliberate hand in crafting our future. The Umoja community invited dynamic keynote speakers to inspire us about the many ways to practice our intentionality and deliberateness. Dr. Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University, joined us on Friday and uplifted the legacy and excellence of HBCUs. Dr. Kimbrough spoke about the future of Black Excellence that is being developed on the HBCU campuses and the many opportunities for transfer students to engage with and build intellectual, social, and cultural capital through scholarship, research and being part of the HBCU family. Our Saturday keynote, Tiffany Cross, host of MSNBC’s The Cross Connection, engaged us around the various forms of civic engagement through the activation of our superpowers. Ms. Cross used examples of contemporary cultural artists who have mined the African American Intellectual, Spiritual, and Artistic Voices from our ancestors to frame their and our understanding and knowledge to act on creating the future. Both of our keynotes provided the community with thoughtful insight of ways to dream and actualize our future.
Tapping African American Intellectual, Spiritual and Artistic Voices. In Umoja, we practice the fine art of reaching back to retrieve ideas and foundations gifted by diverse thinkers, leaders, and artists of the African diaspora, and fusing them with new ideas that will grow our foundations and move us forward. We know this fine art as Sankofa, and we will refer to it as we map out our future. During the conference, there was space to go deeper in our understanding of ancestral connections in a session led by Mwalimu Denise Marshall-Mills and Umoja students as well as opportunity for us to share our gifts at open mic night and several conference workshops that focused on the language as power through literature, the written word, and spoken words.
This year’s conference was truly a time to connect, celebrate, and create a future filled with limitless possibilities. We thank all Umoja staff and practitioners involved in the program development and organization for their time, effort, effort, and excellent work. We also thank our Umoja community of scholars and practitioners for sharing, engaging, and contributing to our collective efforts in supporting Black student academic acceleration, academic success, advocacy, and student leadership.
In service and community,
Umoja Annual Conference XVII Curriculum Committee
Dr. Trelisa R. Glazatov
Umoja Conference XVII Proceedings © 2022 by Umoja Community Education Foundation
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Proceedings Table of Content