CCRE Presents Spring Conference: Respect, Racism, and Patriotism: Talking About Taking a Knee
Friday, May 3rd, 2019
2019 BRIDGING THE GAP CONFERENCE – St Paul’s UCC
On a Spring morning in early May approximately 140 registrants attended the annual CCRE Conference including 50 licensed social workers and professional counselors attending to receive continuing education credits in the area of social policy and racial justice education. Many thanks to the McDaniel College Social Work Department for their support and sponsorship of the CEU opportunity.
A sampling of reflections from the audience were insightful and challenging:
“Dr. Johnson was outstanding, thoughtful and inspiring”
“Loved hearing from the young people – my favorite part of the day!”
“Got me thinking about conversations with my family, most of whom think differently than me”
“Giving tools for participants to use in their everyday lives/workspaces”
“I wish we could have heard from a Police Office in addition to military”
“My eyes were open to all angles of the topic”
“Having conversations was amazing”
As in past years, Ms. Virginia Harrison, one of the founding members of CCRE from the early 90’s, provided introductory remarks and set a positive, inclusive tone for the day.
In an effort to represent multiple generations and different segments of our community, conference participants enjoyed guest speakers who shard their personal perspectives and life experience related to diversity and the meaning of patriotism and inclusion in their lives. As in past Conferences, the interview and conversational exchange brought to life the personal histories and challenges of each speaker that included Ms. Eboni Preston, Mr. Jordan Davis, Dr. Theodore Johnson (Key Address), Mr. Frank Valenti, Ms. Pat English and students from Manchester Valley High School including Tipawa Chakanka, Nateaya Dickerson, Chase Cox and Leah Kwayi.
Growing up in Carroll County, Ms. Eboni Preston Laurent discussed her immersion in athletics, academic excellence and her advocacy for underrepresented communities around the country. She is the first full time staff members devoted to diversity and inclusion at US Lacrosse. In 2017, Ms. Laurent was voted one of Baltimore Sun Magazine’s 50 Women.
Mr. Jordan Davis, a sophomore at McDaniel College and resident of nearby Randallstown Maryland, captured the audience with his motivational and enthusiastic approach to college and community life. His efforts to promote diversity through excellence in performance and civil engagement was clearly evident.
Dr. Johnson proved to be the central inspiration of the day with his spontaneous and wide-ranging discourse on current trends in race relations in the military, government and society in general. Reflecting on his career military service and “coming of age” experiences, Ted helped the audience broaden their understanding of the nuances between the American history of institutionalized racism and patriotism/service to country. Be sure to watch one of his YouTube videos for further learning opportunities. Ted is a model in communication and leadership for everyone learning to “Bridge the Gap” in our neighborhoods, government and country.
Dr. Johnson provided a historical foundation for the afternoon speakers to share their experience serving in the military and civilian life afterward. Military veterans and Carroll County members Frank Valenti and Pat English are examples of carrying their “public service” and sense of patriotism into the private sector – Frank continuing to be a strong advocate for Veteran housing and benefits in our community.
Every CCRE Conference is committed to hearing from young people in our local high schools who are working to promote minority academic achievement, social support and leadership. The Manchester Valley High School students brought the audience to tears and cheers with their stories of trying to navigate the challenges for minorities living in a predominately Caucasian culture of students, teachers and administrators. Clearly these students serve as models walking in the footsteps of the guest speakers who have walked in their shoes at earlier times in their lives.
Bringing the day together on a personal and local level were CCRE members Marty Kuchma and Judy Jones. Tasking and challenging the audience with round table discussions of how we can take the day forward into our schools, offices, churches, families and other community systems – proved to be alternately painful and inspiring for many. To quote one of participants “Great first experience; powerful and brave conversations and looking forward to getting involved and attending next year!”
Many thanks to all the CCRE members that supported this special day:
Erin Snell, Virginia Harrison, Jean Lewis, Pam Zappardino, Marty Kuchma, Judy Jones, Becki Maurio, Mary Clark, Powel Welliver, Amy Baker, Jose Moreno, Raza Khan, Adrienne Sanders
Stay tuned for our Next Year’s Conference theme and date!
Article by Gary Honeman, Clinical Social Worker
Carroll County Youth Service Bureau