Feb. 26 People of Color Conference draws on various cultures

By Rebecca A. Doyle

What began more than 10 years ago as a career-oriented conference primarily for African American women at the U-M has evolved in a decade to cover such diverse topics as talking about sexual health with your children, institutional discrimination policies, cancer prevention, personal finances and success strategies for men of color.

“This year’s People of Color conference is dedicated to drawing upon people of color from various cultures so that we can continue to strengthen ourselves and emerge as a powerful force in this society,” note conference co-chairs Tamaria E. Conner and Elizabeth Thomas. Conner, an academic secretary at University Health Service, and Thomas, office assistant in the Affirmative Action Office, are members of the Women of Color Task Force, which hosts the conference each year.

“Globally Pulling our Cultures Together: Positioning Ourselves to Empower, Impact and Excel” is the conference theme for the Feb. 26 program, and the two keynote speakers address that topic.

Helen Zia, executive editor of Ms. magazine, will speak at 8:30 a.m. in the Modern Languages Building. Zia began her journalism career in Detroit, covering social and political issues for Detroit Metro Times and Monthly Detroit magazines, helped begin Metropolitan Detroit magazine, was editor in chief of M&C magazine and editorial director for Travel Weekly, a travel industry newspaper.

She graduated from Princeton’s

Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and is president of the New York chapter of the Asian-American Journalists Association.

Zia also serves on the board of the New York Asian Women’s Center, which assists Asian American survivors of domestic violence. Her leadership role in a landmark civil rights case has been documented in the film Who Killed Vincent Chin?

Sonia Sanchez, who will speak at 4 p.m. in Hill Auditorium, has lectured at more than 500 universities and colleges in the United States. She is the author of 12 books and has traveled in Cuba, England, the West Indies and the People’s Republic of China to read her poetry.

Sanchez, who won the Lucretia Mott Award in 1984, graduated from Hunter College in 1955. She taught Black English and creative writing in the country’s first Black studies program at San Francisco State College in 1967–69.

Two-hour morning and afternoon workshops—35 of them—cover health issues, interviewing skills and resume writing, Total Quality Management concepts, personal development and multicultural issues.

For the first time, the task force has had to impose a fee of $10 to U-M affiliates who attend the conference and a $30 fee to non-University attendees. Luncheon tickets were available only to those who registered in advance, but Thomas says that those who wish to attend the conference can still register at the door and either bring their lunches, eat at the Michigan League cafeteria or eat at one of the many nearby restaurants and cafes.

Conference organizers note that those who have pre-registered should have received their confirmation tickets. Included was a schedule of events that incorrectly listed the fashion show and Sanchez’s talk in Rackham Auditorium. They will be held in Hill Auditorium. Those who have pre-registered but not yet received confirmation should report to Site B at the Modern Languages Building 7–8 a.m. the day of the conference.


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