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Afro-Colombian Youth Leaders to Visit Washington for Dialogue on Advancing Economic, Political, Social Change in their Communities


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June 4, 2012

Afro-Colombian Youth Leaders to Visit Washington for Dialogue on Advancing Economic, Political, Social Change in their Communities
With the support of the Colombian Embassy in Washington and the Visible Hands Corporation, representatives from the U.S. government, Congress, civil society, and academics from the United States will join more than 13 Afro-Colombian youth for discussions of leadership to create economic, political, and social change in their communities.

Washington, DC, June 4, 2012 – Afro-Colombian youth leaders who have been awarded Fulbright and Martin Luther King scholarships will be in Washington on June 5th and 6th to share their proposals and visions for progress, increased competitiveness, and social and cultural inclusion in their communities.

The conference, themed “Afro-Colombian Youth: Empowerment for Inclusion,” was organized by the Colombian Embassy and the Visible Hands Corporation, with support from the U.S. Department of State. During the two-day conference, Afro-descendent youth from various regions in Colombia who hold graduate degrees will have the opportunity to exchange ideas with representatives from the U.S. Government,U.S. Congress, civil society, and academia.

Conference participants include Congressman Gregory Meeks, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Colombia Caucus; Philip Thomson, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); John Franklin, Director of Partnerships and International Programs at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; and Zakiya Carr Johnson, Senior Advisor for the Race, Ethnicity and Social Inclusion Unit in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Colombian Ambassador to the United States Gabriel Silva will deliver opening remarks on the first day of the conference and former Colombian Minister of Culture Paula Moreno will speak on the importance of creating a network for young Afro-Colombian professionals.

Space for Reflection

The event aims to generate a space for reflection to encourage participants to become catalysts for economic, political and social change in their communities. The conference will also focus on the importance of educational programs as contributors to change and empowerment for young leaders. In addition, the conference will facilitate the creation of a network for young Afro-Colombian leaders with a work agenda that guarantees their contribution to the future of their communities and to increase professional opportunities when they return to Colombia.

Afro-Descendent Topics in the U.S.-Colombia Agenda

Colombia has prioritized actions that benefit Afro-Colombian populations. As a result, the well-being of ethnic and racial minorities has become an important part of the bilateral agenda between the Colombian and U.S. governments.

In the last 10 years, development and equality for Afro-Colombian populations have become an important part of the government’s agenda. Since 2004, two educational programs with great impact have been implemented – the Martin Luther King Scholarship and the Fulbright Scholarship for Afro-Colombian leaders, both of which were created in 2008.

In 2010, the U.S.-Colombia Action Plan to Promote Racial and Ethnic Equality was signed, establishing education, environmental issues, culture, and income generation as strategic areas to address.

Since 2006, as part of Black History Month, the Embassy has been celebrating Afro-Colombian Week in Washington. Community leaders and cultural representatives, such as Petrona Martínez from the community of San Basilio de Palenque, have participated in these events.
 
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