The city of Pine Bluff took the coined phrase “The Future is Female” by Labyris Books, New York City’s first women’s bookstore to the next level by hosting the city’s first women empowerment seminar titled” Lift the Experience -elevating a generation through empowerment, inspiration, and leadership” in the city of Pine Bluff.
Attendees had the opportunity to hear from a diverse panel of female professionals and partake in cultural enrichment through poetry and dance entertainment.
Lift the experience was held Saturday at Pine Bluff Convention Center featuring panelists, Nia Franklin, Miss America 2019; State Representative Vivian Flowers, Attorney Kendra Burrell, Dr. Katherine Glover -Collins, Ajia Richardson, program assistant at the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. With each panelist being of a different age and profession, they offered different perspectives on topics of girl power, self-image, evolution of the male role model in the 21st century, bullying in the age of social media, importance of entrepreneurship, how to change to change the narrative that the current generation is a lost generation.
Samuel Glover, Director of Parks and Recreation and LaRonda Glover of Rhondafully_Made were the panel moderators.
“The one thing that the experience is designed to do -lift and as for the experience, we wanted to serve as a caveat for the paradigm shift in the community,” Glover said. “The youth are so important and not just for our future but for our right now which is why the city of Pine Bluff’s Parks and Recreation Department is structuring all youth programming around the forty developmental assets for growth. These developmental assists will serve as a foundation of what our programs will look like within the city.”
As the event’s special guest, Franklin spoke briefly about her journey to becoming Miss America, and offered words of encouragement to the crowd as it related to her experience. She said there were times she wanted to give up competing because she didn’t always place.
“To go and be in finals and be in the top 15, be in top 10 and get to do my talent on national television and here them call my name was fantastic,” Franklin said. “There’s nothing like that feeling. It goes back to having work ethic and having people in your life that support you and want to see you succeed and never giving up. This is a testament to never giving up because you never know what’s around the corner when you continue to push forward.”
Mayor Shirley Washington said when she was approached by Glover with the idea for the event, she said she wasn’t convinced that it would benefit the city, but after hearing each panelist, she realized that all of the things that they mentioned rang true for not only empowering young people, but also moving the city forward.
“The only way we can save our city is to give it a big S.O.C. -save our children,” Washington said. “As we work to save our children, those things we complain about that they don’t have instilled in them from home, we’ll do ourselves -we’ll embrace them, and we’ll change the culture. One child, one home at a time and we’ll save our community.”
Tracey Rivers of Tracey C. Empowerment made a brief appearance and asked the audience to maximize the time they’ve been given because someone is always watching. Glover said that is meaning of lift.
“When I hear the word lift, I hear rise -to rise to the occasion,” Glover said. “That’s what I’m doing right now. Life will uplift you and give you sense of camaraderie. You have my back, I have your back. You adjust my crown; I adjust your crown -that’s what we do. When you’re uplifting, you start with yourself first and once you get yourself together, you can help the person beside you, and another person, and another person, and by the time you have finished, you have lifted an entire community.”
Queens from universities around Arkansas modeled spring, summer, fall, and winter fashions to show the attendees ways to dress for success for different events. Entertainment was provided by members of the Righteous Poets Club at Central High School in Little Rock. Franklin also sang an original song in which she had written.