La Salle faculty participate in Afro-Latin/American Research Association conference

September 22, 2023

The organization’s president, Luisa Ossa, Ph.D., is a Spanish professor and director of the Black Studies minor at the University.  

La Salle University faculty and staff were well represented at the Afro-Latin/American Research Association (ALARA) conference this summer.  

The annual conference, held this year from Aug. 2-4 at Rutgers University Camden, focused on the issues facing Black communities throughout the Americas while highlighting achievements and successes. 

Established in 1996, ALARA was founded to foster and promote the study of the African Diaspora in the Americas.  

“As we celebrate ALARA’s 27th anniversary, we find ourselves in a time when Black History and Black Studies are being banned. Now, as much as ever, we see the critical need for ALARA and other like organizations,” Luisa Ossa, Ph.D., wrote in her conference message.  

Ossa is ALARA’s president, and a Spanish professor and director of the Black Studies minor at La Salle.  

Ossa said ALARA works to keep the study of Black Diaspora alive while creating a supportive community for activists, artists, creatives, educators, and scholars, writers, and all those interested in the success and well-being of the Black diaspora. 

“Everyone feels important, and everyone is heard. It leads to great discussion,” she said. 

Ossa began to be involved with ALARA in 2004. Since joining, she’s held a variety of roles within the organization and as president she planned a conference that allowed everyone to be involved with every session.  

Ossa moderated and presented on a variety of panels. She was also able to involve her La Salle colleagues in a portion of the presentations.  

Luisa Ossa, Ph.D., addresses
the audience at the
Research Association (ALARA)

Panels focused on a variety of topics including “highlighting local activism,” “Witnessing the ‘Cultural Decade’ from a College Student’s Typewriter: An Analysis of The La Salle Collegian, 1969-1970,” “Centering Voices of the African Diaspora in Education and Health Care, from Policy to Practice,” community building, and arts and culture.  

Alongside La Salle, academics from Rutgers University-Camden, University of Southern California, University of Missouri, and other U.S. and international institutions, were present. 

Cherylyn Rush, Multicultural Affairs director, attended the conference as an audience member. She said hearing from La Salle faculty and staff, along with other educators, brought the topics and research full circle. 

Trent McLaurin, Ph.D., education assistant professor, and John G. Taylor, PhD, M.Ed., MACC, LPC, public health assistant professor, presented together on the need for intentional mentoring programs for Black students on college campuses. Their presentation utilized national data and relevant and current theory that indicate a clear need to intentionally support Black students on college campuses.  

“Dr. Taylor and I discussed our work on this topic in practical and theoretical ways that also acknowledged our positionality with the subject,” McLaurin said.  

McLaurin said ALARA helps foster community and scholarship that is often overlooked.  

“It was great to see so many La Salle University faculty and staff participating in this conference and making connections with scholars across the globe,” he added. “While some topics where specific to international communities, it was easy to make connections to critical issues around justice and equity that are happening here the United States. As Lasallian educators, it was inspiring to engage in this work around justice together and by association.”  

—Meg Ryan