The importance of ‘connection’: Roadrunners attend annual A2MEND Conference in Los Angeles - Crafton Hills College
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Publish Date: March 11, 2024

A2MEND Attendees

Four Black/African American students from Crafton Hills College were among the more than 1,000 invited to attend the 2024 A2MEND Conference held March 6-8 in Los Angeles.

The annual event connects African American male students to groups working collaboratively to eliminate barriers they face while working to obtain a higher education. . 

“The summit offered ways to navigate systemic barriers for our students such as identifying mentors who can offer advice [and] connect them with resources and potential career opportunities,” explained Willie Blackmon, Crafton’s dean of student services and student development. 

Studies show African American male students are likely to experience certain roadblocks in college, from ongoing inequalities to the difficulties of establishing community on campus. Roadrunners invited to attend the conference were able to “lean into the unique components of mentoring by experiencing culturally relevant guidance in workshops for people who share the same racial and cultural backgrounds,” said Blackmon.

For 34-year-old Redlander  Cameron Richey, what stood out the most was seeing Black/African American men portrayed in a different light from how they are viewed in media. Another key benefit was learning the history of African American culture, where it comes from, how it has progressed over time, and how it continues to become “bigger and better,” the sociology major added.

A2MEND is hosted by the African American Male Education Network & Development (A2MEND), a nonprofit comprised of African American male educators who volunteer their time to support the statewide mentoring program. 

The 2024 conference’s theme, “Affirming Our Own Actions: Advocacy, Urgency and Liberation,” reflects the organization’s objective to “cultivate the importance of re-establishing the black male success in [a] community college [setting] and their presence in the community as a whole,” according to its website.

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