2023 Biennial

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19th Biennial Conference of the Society for Community Research and Action

Where Do We Go From Here? Dreaming New Community Futures

June 20-24 2023, Atlanta, Georgia

Hosted by Morehouse College

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SCRA Biennial Program

Our theme is Where Do We Go From Here? Dreaming New Community Futures. Honoring the history of civil rights and Black liberation movements in Atlanta, as well as the 60th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech, we are inspired by Morehouse College alumnus Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We take particular inspiration from his book “Where Do We Go From Here: Community or Chaos?” The book chronicles his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement. The question he posed in the title informs the vision of the biennial: We unequivocally choose Community. The work of Dr. King and other Morehouse alumni aligns with the values of community psychology: social justice, empowerment, citizen participation, individual and family wellness, empirical grounding, and respect for diversity.

Given that we are hosting a hybrid conference that seeks to merge the old with the new, we also take inspiration from Afrofuturism. As a form of spatiotemporal consciousness rooted in Black liberation and transformation, Afrofuturism provides a framework for imagining new futures while also recovering past technologies of liberation. In parallel with community psychology’s focus on understanding prehistories of settings, Afrofuturism asks us to reconsider the histories we have been told and what futures we are allowed to dream. 

The history of community-based scholarship would be incomplete without the work of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. A founding figure of scientific sociology, Dr. Du Bois exemplified the community-engaged scholar. His Atlanta school of sociological research was an insurgent intellectual network during an era of social Darwinism and Jim Crow. His decolonial pragmatism used and innovated many methods we take for granted as community psychologists.

We want this conference to be a healing space as well. Beyond Dr. King and Dr. Du Bois, many scholars and activists from Morehouse and the surrounding Atlanta University Center (a consortium of HBCUs consisting of Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University) sought to heal communities from the psychological traumas resulting from imperialist extraction and capitalist exploitation. A strengths-based approach respects community self-determination and indigenous healing practices. Communities in the African diaspora have used different forms of restorative justice across the millennia. How do we help communities heal from trauma while respecting their own healing strategies? How do we heal our own communities where we are located?