Patricia Berkly at The Black Doctoral Network Inaugural National Conference
Leah P. Hollis, Ed.D.
President Patricia Berkly LLC
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the home of brotherly love and sisterly affection, was the proud host of The Black Doctoral Network Inaugural National Conference October 3 through October 5 2013, at the Double Tree Hotel. This hallmark event was led by Dr. Maurice Green, Executive Director at the International Black Doctoral Network Association. The speakers throughout the conference were a literal Who’s who of the black intelligentsia focusing on the theme “scholarship, service and community.”
The opening session was introduced by Trabian Shorters of BMe.org. He asked for black scholars to choose a partner and look closely…. Then name everything wrong with the partner. The connection is this is how the world looks at African American men, seeking first what is wrong. His mission is to work with young African American men in the communities so society doesn’t perpetuate the loss of African American boys and men to the justice system. The task was assigned to conference delegates to preserve the black community and advance the progress of its most squandered resource, the African American male.
The opening ceremony on Thursday evening continued with a compelling speech by Dr. Cornell West, imminent scholar and professor at the Union Seminary in New York City. West urged the audience of black scholars and advocates to find their original voice. “Anyone can be a copy…” but one is always successful when he or she finds that authentic voice. West reflected on the work of WEB Dubois, Angela Davis and William Julius Wilson as examples of original thought that propelled the African American consciousness. He also commented on the spiritual center of our communities, or the erasure of such. Churches, mosques and synagogues are seldom found in the black community; young people find transcendence through music, expressing themselves over a rhyme.
Moved by his remarks, participants in the crowd asked questions about how black intellectuals should poise themselves in a supposedly “post racial” society. Other remarks included the reflection on the Historically Black College, and that the community college serves a great deal of African Americans.
The conference continued through October 4 and October 5 with key note speeches from Dr. William Julius Wilson and Dr. Julianne Malveaux. With over 350 scholars in attendance from institutions such as Cornell University, Morgan State, Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania, Howard University, University of Denver and Spelman, to name a few, the program was loaded with critical topics in academy. Presenters offered their primary research and perspective on research methods, entrepreneurship, the academic job talk, the publish/perish process, violence in the workplace and community, and urban education. The conference sessions were engaging, for African Americans, by African Americans.
Considered a solid success by conference organizers and participants, The Black Doctoral Network Inaugural National Conference had several sponsors including top university sponsors such as University of Pennsylvania, the University of Delaware, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sponsor partners also included John Jay College of Criminal Justice, AmeriHealth Carita, African Ancestry and Bme.org with the Knight Foundation serving as the title sponsor.
Leah P. Hollis, Ed.D. is president and founder of Patricia Berkly LLC in greater Philadelphia. She presented her original work at the conference reflecting on workplace bullying and its impact on African American staff in the academy.