Brothers Deconstruct To Reconstruct in Kansas City
Black male scholar organization hosts first national think tankKANSAS CITY, Mo.
Instead of billing it as a conference or a symposium, the Brothers of the Academy organization, in association with its affiliate organization Sisters of the Academy, held its first national “think tank” earlier this month in Kansas City, Mo. The national meeting drew nearly 700 registered attendees along with dozens of local high school and college students.
As a think tank, BOTA officials described the three-day meeting in downtown Kansas City as one geared around developing concrete solutions of community development and empowerment for Black Americans. Rather than the meeting taking the shape of an academic conference, which typically provides scholars a forum for the presentation of research findings among colleagues within a particular discipline, BOTA members stressed that they invited scholars from a wide range of disciplines to present research findings that could be channeled into community action.
Formally titled “Brothers of the Academy Think Tank 2003: Deconstruct to Reconstruct,” the event’s structure and purpose was based on a tradition established by Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois at Atlanta University and on ideas in Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s The Miseducation of the Negro, according to event chair Dr. Leon Caldwell, an assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
“The whole idea of the think tank is to take ideas and solutions directly into Black communities,” Caldwell says.
The think tank enjoyed speeches from keynote speakers who challenged meeting attendees to strive for moral and social uplift. As keynoters, Black academic stars Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dr. Na’im Akbar and Dr. Cornel West delivered impassioned speeches that brought audience members to their feet with standing ovations.
Scholars at the think tank presented papers on solving problems on specific issue areas, including education, health, family and economic development, student achievement, HIV and AIDS among African Americans, and promoting positive media images. Caldwell noted that BOTA will produce “The BOTA Annals” out of the think tank and will publish the proceedings on CD-ROM.
Headquartered at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Brothers of the Academy was founded in 1999 by a group of African American male scholars with the goal of producing quality research that focuses upon improving African and African American peoples, schools and communities. — By Ronald Roach
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