Half-day conference on African American and Latino relations to be held at the UGA Georgia Center

Half-day conference on African American and Latino relations to be held at the UGA Georgia Center in April

Athens, Ga. — A major policy conference dealing with the new realities of African American and Latino ethnic relations in the Southeast will be held at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel on April 5 from 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

The conference and a luncheon buffet to follow are free and open to the public.

The conference was inspired in part by the efforts of two ministers, one African American and the other Latino, the Reverends Harvey Williams and Atanacio Gaona, of Atkinson County in south Georgia. The recent experiences between these community leaders were reported widely in the national media in October 2006. Their work has called attention to the importance of addressing the implications of the dramatic social changes facing both Latinos and African Americans in the state of Georgia and the region.

The conference will, among many issues, address social problems and conflicts, as well as opportunities that may result as Latinos move into communities in which blacks were previously the largest ethnic minority population. This demographic shift has widespread implications for education, employment, healthcare and community building in Georgia.

The morning session of the conference will feature keynote addresses by Clarke County Superior Court Judge Steve Jones, chairman of Partners for a Prosperous Athens, and Sen. Sam Zamarripa, who represents District 36 in the Georgia State Senate. Their presentations will be followed by a panel of academics and educators, civil servants and social service providers.

Panel members include Sgt. Nick Aguilar, Athens-Clarke County Police Department; Melissa Arcila, president, UGA Hispanic Law Student Association; Alicia Battle, Goodwill Industries of North Georgia, Inc. Career Center; Wendy Reynolds Dobbs, UGA African American Student Association; and Monica Knight, director of Student Achievement and Educational Equity for the Clarke County School District. Following comments by the panel, the meeting will be open to a question-and-answer period from the general audience.

At noon, a buffet lunch will be served, allowing conference participants to mingle and discuss issues raised in the formal session. During the luncheon period, Williams and Gaona will give testimonials about their experiences in working together to find common ground in their own community.

The conference is sponsored by the UGA Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute and the Institute for African American Studies, with additional funding provided by the UGA President’s Venture Fund and the UGA Office of the Vice-President for Public Service and Outreach.