Family values with a touch of Hollywood at Hampton U.

By Da’Reinn Stevens

The 34th Annual Black Family Conference geared up for a great start Wednesday evening at the opening ceremony. This year the conference focused on issues black families face, with the theme “Roots and Wings: The Road to the Future Runs through the Past.”

Joan McMillan Wickham, president of the National Hampton Alumni Association, began the program by welcoming everyone in attendance. She also gave a brief history lesson on how the event came together.

“We have to make sure Hampton stays relevant in society,” said William R. Harvey, president of Hampton University.

The idea came from six black family court judges, said Wickham; the judges noticed the issues black families faced and knew it needed to be fixed. The judges challenged the Hampton University family to start a conference to help empower and educate families.

Before long it was time to introduce the keynote speaker Daphne Maxwell Reid; photographer, actress, mother and wife. As a woman who prides herself on her family and where she came from, Reid’s words would not be forgotten.

She is a native of New York where she graduated from Bronx High School of Science. She then went on to Northwestern University. There she earned her degree in interior design and architecture. This was also the place her career in modeling began.

Mostly known as “Aunt Viv” from the TV sitcom ”Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Reid has also worked on shows and movies including but not limited to the “Cosby Show” and “Sister Sister.”

She is married to Tim Reid and together they operate the New Millennium Studios in Petersburg, Va. The studio is the first full service film studio in the area. When Reid is not busy working she enjoys traveling, photography, and sewing.

“Every lesson has a purpose and you should learn that lesson so you won’t repeat it,” said Reid as she encouraged students to do everything they aspire to do.

After Reid’s keynote speech, Harvey introduced the Newsome family. Their family was awarded the black family award for their heroic relative, attorney Joseph Thomas Newsome.

Newsome earned his law degree from the Howard University Law School and was very active in the Hampton Roads community, serving as editor of the Newport News Star. He was also the first African-American to practice law before the Virginia Supreme Court.

The week will continue through Friday, March 16 with numerous seminars and activities focusing on financial literacy, education, and health.

“During the program I stopped looking at this event as an extra credit opportunity and appreciated everything I learned,” said Rhyan Weller, a Hampton University sophomore.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications