The University of New Mexico African American Student Services hosted the 2019 Black Cultural Conference at UNM on Sept. 19 and 20.
According to organizers, around 450 people were in attendance and included students from universities across the Southwest. Local community members, high school students and representatives from the City of Albuquerque also participated.
The conference, subtitled "Blackness Unchained," was focused around "Radical Self-Care.” It included several workshops throughout its two-day duration with a concentration on mindfulness techniques. It also included seminars on leadership and community capacity building.
The largest gathering of people was the Friday luncheon featuring Ericka Huggins, a "Black Panther Party member, political prisoner, poet and human rights advocate," according to a conference press release.
"We cannot ignore all the humans in our midst — no matter their role — because each of us are playing a role too," Huggins said.
At the luncheon, Huggins' keynote speech encapsulated the main topics and goals that brought the group together for the conference. Huggins, who famously talks about love as a source of power, said she wants to "affirm radical self-care" through such techniques as community gatherings.
Brandi Stone, interim director of African American Student Services, said she "hoped that the conversation does not stop after the conference," citing the importance of an ongoing need to observe the teachings of the conference.
Stephanie McCluney, a student at New Mexico State University who attended the conference, indicated that it was, overall, a success. McCluney, the media marketing officer for the Black Student Association of NMSU, said this kind of atmosphere was new for her.
She said it's important to be around other students who can relate to each other as black students attending universities.
"This is an atmosphere that most of us from NMSU haven’t been in," McCluney said.
She expressed her gratitude toward African American Student Services and said "they didn’t have to put this on, but they wanted to," and that her delegation was "welcomed with open arms."
McCluney added that she was excited to bring the lessons she learned back to her own campus in Las Cruces.
"Let’s see what we can improve on our half to build a stronger African American community in the state of New Mexico."
Dan Goodwin is a freelance news reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @dg_5353