*Los Angeles – An eager crowd gathered in Leimert Park Village, at the Los Angeles Third Church of Spiritual Living, on a recent Fall morning. The actual date was Saturday, November 22nd, 2014. The occasion was the 2nd Annual Black Family Conference, presented by the Awaken the Greatness Foundation.

2nd Annual Black Family Conference: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

2nd Annual Black Family Conference: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

The theme for the 2nd Annual Black Family Conference was Cooperative Economics and Empowerment.” This is a timely theme during this season of Blessings, as the nation prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Linda Collins and Que'Ron Hildreth at Registration Table: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Linda Collins and Que’Ron Hildreth at Registration Table: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

It was encouraging to see various families with young kids in attendance to take ownership of the seeds (knowledge) that will eventually sprout (empower) the recipients. The objective is to empower the assembled families.

Layla Sewell, Founder/Executive Director, Awaken the Greatness Foundation, welcomed the assembled crowd to accentuate the positive buying power that they possess, regardless of their income level. Bridgette Pinson, Spiritual Practitioner, Los Angeles Third Church of Spiritual Living, Blessed the space and the occasion.

Debra Tildwell, Layla Sewell, Que"Ron Hildreth and Mary Fletcher

Debra Tildwell, Layla Sewell, Que”Ron Hildreth and Mary Fletcher

Bridgette Pinson: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Bridgette Pinson: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

The program officially got underway with the crowd singing the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice.” Noquoma Wilson, Program Coordinator at West Angeles CDC and Karen Downard, Director of Operations, West Angeles CDC led the first breakout session for Younger Youth entitled “Great Minds Think about Financial Literacy” at KAOS Network. Brother Kokayi Kwa Jitahidi, Co-Founder & President, MAAT Institute for Community Change held a fun, interactive breakout session for Parents and Older Youths entitled “Power of the Black Dollar.” The presentation was preceded by a YouTube video of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X and Marcus Garvey, spoke about Cooperative Economics and the enormous spending power of African Americans.

Kokayi Kwa Jitahidi: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Kokayi Kwa Jitahidi: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

The lively conversations continued during the next interactive panel, “Solutions for Economic Empowerment, moderated by Tunua Thrash, Executive Director, West Angeles CDC, featuring Dexter McLeod, Entrepreneur & Director, People for Community Improvement, Nylah Davis, Owner/CEO, Nylah’s Fat Thighz Cupcakes, Randy Hughes, Founder & President, Friends & Neighbors Community Club, Valencia Queen and Pauline Giscombe, Educator and Mentor, Wall Street Nurse. This dream team of dynamic speakers opened our eyes to additional sources of income streams that are available.

Layla Sewell, Dexter McLeod,Nylah Davis,Randy Hughes,Valencia Queen,Pauline Giscombe and Tunua Thrash

Layla Sewell, Dexter McLeod,Nylah Davis,Randy Hughes,Valencia Queen,Pauline Giscombe and Tunua Thrash

Brother Kojo Rikondja, Advocate and Instructor, Limbiko Tembo School of African American Culture and Sister Sanifu Adezona, African American Cultural Center taught the young kids the seven principles of Kwanzaa, Nguza Saba, which they performed as a song for a captivated audience.

Kojo Rikondja and Sanifu Adezona with young kids: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Kojo Rikondja and Sanifu Adezona with young kids: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

The 2nd Annual Black Family Conference concluded with an eye opening workshop presented by Karen Alvarado and Norma Chacon of One United Bank. The crowd was showed helpful tools to track the flow of their money, and tips to organize important financial documents to avoid paying late fees for various expenses.

Norma Chacon,Layla Sewell and Karen Alvarado: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Norma Chacon,Layla Sewell and Karen Alvarado: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Gwen’s Specialty Cakes and Catering served up a nice lunch to end the event. Each family in attendance also received a free bag of groceries.

The Awaken the Greatness Foundation (ATG) creates and sustains meaningful lifestyles of the African American Family by clarifying values, promoting academic and social excellence, building positive and supportive relationships, and strengthening our personal paths to success.

The Awaken the Greatness Foundation is a Los Angeles based 501©3 non-profit organization facilitates and moderates workshops and classes for schools and community organizations to enricPostsh and improve the lives of African American parents and youth.

The organization also produces an Annual Black Family Conference and collaborates with other organizations to have events that promote strengthening the family.

If you would like a free parent series on your campus or at your organization or church in Los Angeles County, call them today!  (3230743-3660 or visit them online at www.awakenthegreatness.org or email [email protected]  you can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]