Conference Grant Recipient: Connie Henderson by: Amy Bucher

The JL Boston Conference Grant Fund was established to encourage, empower, and enable active members of the Junior League of Boston to pursue training opportunities, through an offset of registration and related costs. We’re excited to share how our 2017-2018 recipients used their awards for personal and professional development.

Our second profiled recipient is Connie Henderson.

Conference: Race Amity Conference

Date: 11/17 & 11/18/2018

Location: Boston (Quincy), MA

JL Grant Recipient and Attendee: Connie Henderson

Connie Henderson attended the Race Amity Conference in Boston, and overall enjoyed her experience. Connie shared some key insights with us following the conference. There were a few sessions that did not reach her expectations, but she still gained a lot of insight, enjoyed herself and appreciated attending as this helped her to grow as a woman and educator. 

Some of the highlights included the opening keynote speaker, Roberto Rivera. Rivera was very engaging and charismatic as he spoke about how changing your lens, or perspective, can turn negative experiences into positive. He shared stories about his rough childhood and teen years, and how a shift in his focus helped him change his life.  Rivera went from drug dealing to going to college and now working on his Ph.D. and doing very inspiring work in his Chicago community.

Connie attended multiple breakout sessions and was very interested by “White Women who Teach Black Boys” whose content made her think. The session was challenging and motivating. She bought the book that the presenter co-authored, a guide for white women that teach boys of color. Connie looks forward to reading and reflecting more on this subject.

The lunch speaker was Rainn Wilson from The Office who spoke about his company Soul Pancake, which empowers people to make stuff that matters. Connie was happy to learn that the the “Kid President” video clips which both she and her students really enjoy are produced by Soul Pancake.

Connie also really enjoyed seeing one of her favorite social justice authors and speakers, Debby Irving, give an engaging presentation on how to explain white supremacy to a skeptic. Another favorite session was The Musicality of Shakespeare. Connie was especially looking forward to this session, as she teaches Shakespeare and makes the connections between Shakespeare and HipHop to her students. She loved the presentation and materials shared and hopes to incorporate some of what she learned into her teaching. 

A second session that Debby Irving and Dr. Eddie Moore, the author of The Guide for White Women who Teach Black Boys, gave has inspired Connie to bring back an idea to JL Boston. Irving discussed having a 21 day action plan for social justice because studies show that if you do something for 21 days, it becomes a habit. They want people to start stepping out of their comfort zone and facing and talking about their privilege. A list of suggestions to get the conversation started included podcasts, video clips, and other resources.

Connie recently went to the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force meeting and would like to present the 21-day Challenge to that group. Connie supports JL Boston’s diversity efforts but sees that there is a greater conversation that needs to happen. If we don’t face the uncomfortable truths, it won’t matter in the long run. As Debby Irving said during the conference, “Plantations in the south before the Civil War were diverse.”