‘Our Moment Is NOW!’ Features Breonna Taylor’s Mother Among Speakers at 45th Annual Pan-African Conference April 6-7

Conference Includes Royalty Competition

by GABBIE KEERAN, CSU Public Relations Intern

Tamika Palmer, mother of Breonna Taylor, will deliver the closing keynote address at the 45th annual Dr. Michael T. Fagin Pan African Conference hosted by Minnesota State Mankato on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 6-7.

Theme for this year’s conference is “Our Moment is Now!” Other speakers include the April 6 opening keynote address by civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt, who represented the family of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was pursued and fatally shot while jogging outside Brunswick, Ga. in February 2020. Also featured at the conference, Renee Walters and Ashley Scott, founders of the “Freedom Georgia Initiative,” will speak later in the day about the 97-acre safe haven for people of color created in response to Arbery’s death.

All events throughout the conference will be virtual. For more information, visit Pan African Conference | Minnesota State Mankato.


Palmer is expected to speak about keeping her daughter’s legacy and memory alive by encouraging people to mention her name until she receives justice.

On March 16, 2021, NBC Nightly News conducted an extended two-part interview with Tamika Palmer a year after the March 13, 2020, death of her daughter Breonna Taylor.

Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American emergency room technician, was fatally shot in her Louisville, Ken., apartment in March 2020 by officers with the Louisville Metro Police Department. Police forced entry into the apartment as part of an investigation into drug dealing operations. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who said he did not hear police identify themselves, fired one shot in the direction of the intrusion. Police fired multiple shots with six rounds striking and killing Taylor.

Officer Brett Hankinson, who blindly shot into the apartment from an outside location, was fired by the department and later indicted by a grand jury on three counts of wanton endangerment to Taylor’s neighbors. None of the three officers involved in the shooting were indicted for Taylor’s death.

Kenneth Reid

Protests and civil unrest resulted following the shooting and grand jury rulings.

Kenneth Reid, director of the Center for African American Affairs at Minnesota State Mankato and co-director for this year’s conference, said the annual gathering explores the intersections of racial justice, political activism and engagement, and financial capital within the Pan-African community. 

Preserving the memory of those killed in 2020 is the message behind this year’s theme, he added.

“Their names are our purpose in the ‘Our Moment Is NOW!’ movement,” Reid said. “The significance behind the conference theme, ‘Our Moment Is NOW!’, stems from the death of the individuals, Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, Ms. Breonna Taylor, Mr. George Floyd and several others during 2020. There has been an increase of people willing to listen and hear the concerns, cries, and frustrations the black and brown community expresses.”

The conference will feature multiple speakers, including nationwide, and local names.

Tuesday, April 6

  • S. Lee Merritt, Civil Rights Attorney, Activist, and Ahmaud Arbery Family Attorney.
  • Mya Williamson and Brianna Williamson, Founders and Owners of Love My Natural Hair
  • Renee Walters and Ashley Scott Founders of The Freedom Initiative

Wednesday, April 7 – From The Streets to the Polls (Panel Discussion)

  • Leslie Redmond, Past NAACP Minneapolis President and Twin Cities Community Activist
  • Anika Robbins, Founder of Black Votes Matter MN and Twin Cities Community Activist
  • Destiny Owens, Founder of B.E.A.M. and Mankato Community Activist
  • Angela Myers, NAACP Minneapolis President and Twin Cities Community Activist
  • Shadow Rolan, Black Feminist/Social Justice Advocate and Twin Cities/Mankato Community Activist

The conference will hold a Royalty Competition to showcase young scholars committed to developing leadership, education and community. The competition will hold three portions including a talent show, fashion show, and questionnaire.

“The royalty competition has been happening since the beginning of the Pan African Conference,” Reid said. “We are calling all high school juniors and seniors as well as undergraduate and graduate students to participate in a engaging activity welcoming to all.”

To apply for the royalty competition, visit Royalty Competition | Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The Pan African Conference is named in honor of its founder, Dr. Michael T. Fagin. An emeritus professor and Pan African leader, Fagin has been a member of the Minnesota State Mankato community for nearly five decades. 

Dr. Fagin is known for his revolutionizing diversity efforts at the University. Dr. Fagin is professor of African American studies, creator and chair of the ethnic studies program, associate vice president for cultural diversity, and vice president for institutional diversity.

The conference was named in Dr. Fagin’s honor in 2010.

To register for the conference, click here.


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