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The social impact of growth

Upcoming 34th Black World Conference at MSU Denver highlights positive and negative effects of Colorado’s population boom.

By Cory Phare

February 9, 2017

Colorado is in a state of flux. The population is soaring, and with it comes both challenges and opportunities. Beyond the demographic numbers, however, are lingering questions of impact on local communities: Who does the growth benefit? Who is left out?

Once impacts are identified, how can this information be used?

Those are some of the key issues the 34th Black World Conference will explore, taking place Feb. 15-16 in St. Cajetan’s Center. The event is free and open to the public.

“The crises and opportunities of this time period are traditionally examined from national and international levels,” said David W. Jackson III, Ph.D., assistant professor in MSU Denver’s Department of Africana Studies and the 2017 conference chair.

“This is a local focus and look at the strains on the Black community, which is always the first to suffer when a state undergoes a massive population increase,” he said. “Our goal is for the larger community to benefit from the conversation.”

For the first time, conference content will be compiled into a book to be distributed to local libraries and political officials.

Each day consists of two panel presentations. On Wednesday Feb. 15 participants will look at the negative impact of a population surge on crime and social services. The focus of the second day, Thursday Feb. 16, is: opportunities related to financial empowerment, business prospects, and social activism.

The conference will also feature panel presentations from Denver’s Manual High School and Aurora-based Hinkley High School on black studies and youth activism, respectively. The decision to move from a single formal keynote speaker to area high school student panels was a matter of shifting the focus to youth as the future, according to Jackson.

“By having [their] involvement, it gives them a sense of ownership to become leaders,” he said. “In turbulent times, it’s a good adjustment to connect students to a space and have them take the torch.”

The free conference begins at 9:30 a.m. each day.

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