With motivation from images of the First Family and observances like July’s National Black Family Month, today’s African Americans have inspiration and dedicated celebrations to commemorate their connection and heritage.
But a history of disparity has presented many challenges that still exist among Black families, ranging from clarifying values to building positive, supportive relationships to keeping children safe.
Recent studies on California show African Americans are more likely to live in poverty and Black men are imprisoned at a much higher rate when compared to other races. The state’s African American children are more likely to live in single parent households and represent the largest population in its foster care system.
More studies show disparities in education, employment opportunities, and access to health care, community programs and services.
With this knowledge, a local teacher, wife and mother, Layla Sewell, envisioned an opportunity to heal, assist and encourage African American families. She founded the Awaken the Greatness Foundation (ATG) to bring awareness to the challenges Black families face and propose solutions that will strengthen their bond and connection with the community.
“There are too many outside forces that can disrupt the family, from peer pressure to the media to an unjust system,” said Sewell, executive director of ATG.
“It is imperative for the family unit to be strong and for them and the community to hold each other accountable.”
In only two years’ time, ATG has become a local champion empowering approximately 90 families in Los Angeles with the knowledge to strengthen their personal paths to success, Sewell said.
ATG is collaborating with People for Community Improvement (PCI) to host the 2013 Black Family Conference on Saturday, August 17. PCI is a known community haven, popular for providing a variety of valuable services including food distribution, youth programs and services for seniors. The First 5 LA Best Start Program is also showing support as a sponsor.
The conference is designed be an interactive mix of breakout sessions and presenters, including representatives from First 5 LA and Dr. Maulana Karenga’s The Organization Us.
It will also give families the knowledge and resources to take an active role in exposing African American history and heritage to their families, according to event organizers. “Families will leave the conference with a sense of responsibility to be better academically, socially and economically,” they said.
There is no fee to register and seating is limited. All families in attendance will receive lunch, groceries, school supplies and other giveaways, including a community resource guide listing local programs and services.
The 2013 Black Family Conference will take place at People for Community Improvement located at 13008 S. Figueroa Street in Los Angeles. For more information or to register your family visit www.awakenthegreatness.org or contact (323) 743-3660. If your organization provides free or low- cost community services and you would like a listing in the resource guide please email