Scholars convene for 'Black Men in America' conference, March 3

Feb. 22, 2007 11 a.m.

Scholars from Princeton, Harvard, Brown and other universities will join entrepreneurs, educators and civic leaders at the second annual State of Black Men in America Conference on Saturday, March 3, at Princeton University.

Students from the Princeton Black Men's Awareness Group have organized the all-day conference titled "Six Faces of Being a Black Man," which seeks to explore the social, economic, political and personal realities facing black men today. An estimated 400 people are expected to attend seven panel discussions that will explore the role of black male professionals; black men and issues of sexual as well as mental health; the importance of religion in black male America; the plight of black men in the urban education system; and black men as family men.

"Our goal is to create a national event that is known as the premier conference on issues concerning black men in America," said Princeton senior and co-organizer Chris Chaney. "This year's conference is bigger in scope and size. We have 46 speakers and moderators from across the country and are expecting attendees from more than 30 colleges."

Speakers will include: K. Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy at Princeton; Melissa Harris-Lacewell, associate professor of politics and African American studies at Princeton; Deborah Blanks, associate dean at the Office of the Dean of Religious Life at Princeton; Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard University; Howard White, vice president of The Jordan Brand; Sheron Smith, founder and president of Good Tree Media, and mother and manager of the rapper Mos Def; Tricia Rose, professor of Africana studies at Brown University; John McWhorter, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research; and Bakari Kitwana, co-founder of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention and former executive editor of The Source.

"Given the importance of Princeton University as a national and international institution, and the myriad of issues facing black men, this conference is both critically important and timely," said speaker Roland Warren, a 1983 Princeton alumnus and president of the National Fatherhood Initiative.

The Black Men's Awareness Group started the event last year as part of its State of Black Men in America initiative. Chaney said he began the initiative as a way to increase awareness about black men at Princeton and in America by organizing a forum that draws participants from diverse ideological and economic backgrounds.

"I felt that a black men's conference at an Ivy League institution such as Princeton was well overdue, especially considering the tremendous black scholars we have here," Chaney said.

He said the forum was also a natural extension of the community service and scholarly work of the Black Men's Awareness Group. Undergraduate and graduate students established the group in 1994 to address issues unique to black men, and to promote the intellectual growth and civic responsibility of its members.

The conference schedule will begin at 8 a.m. with registration and breakfast in the Frist Campus Center. A welcome ceremony led by conference organizers and featuring a keynote address by author and activist Herb Boyd is set for 9:30 a.m. in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, followed by the panel discussions. The conference will end at 5:15 p.m. in McCosh Hall with a town hall meeting moderated Kitwana. The town hall meeting will be followed by a reception featuring live jazz by the Irwin Hall Collective at the Frist Campus Center.

Sponsors of the event are the Black Men's Awareness Group, Ariel Capital Management, Association of Black Princeton Alumni, Center for American Progress, Morgan Stanley, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Department of Anthropology, Department of Art and Archaeology, Fields Center, Center for African American Studies, Conference Services, Council of the Humanities, Department of Comparative Literature, Department of Electrical Engineering, Department of English, Frist Campus Center, Department of History, James Madison Program, Department of Music, Office of Religious Life, Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, Pace Center, Program in the Study of Women and Gender, Projects Board, School of Architecture, Venture Fund and Women's Center.

The conference is open to the public, but registration is required. Registration is free for University students, faculty and staff, $20 for University alumni and non-Princeton students, and $30 for the general public. To register and to view a full conference schedule, visit

Members of the news media interested in attending the conference should e-mail Chaney at no later than 10 a.m. Friday, March 2, with details about which portions of the conference they wish to attend.