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BHN Virtual Event Center: Last night's mental health forum with McCoy closes out Black History Month

Dr. Thema Bryant, president of the American Psychological Association and University of Michigan psychology professor, Dr. Kevin Cokley, talked candidly about Black mental health


It was after the successful soft launch of the Black Headline News Virtual Event Center (BHN) platform on February 3, featuring show hosts and BHN Cohort publishers, Rina Risper of The New Citizens Press and Dana James of Black Iowa News, that the online public was introduced to the new virtual reality events and news platform. It would be through seven more live forums thereafter that online audiences could log into the BHN Virtual Event Center to watch live programming in the Town Hall Room.

The second live forum February 10 featured BHN Cohort publishers, Julia Dudley Najieb and Rina Risper talking about African-Americans and clean energy--how they are being omitted out of the most important parts of the conversation as the nation is seeking to go electric by 2030 or earlier.

During the third week of February, BHN news anchor host Carol Angela Davis started interviewed speakers, Keon Davis, who is a business owner (Smooth N' Groove,) and certified financial planner expert, Kenneth Chavis. Viewers got more insight on what it takes to keep a successful business going, as well as financial advice on how to manage one's income.

The very next day, BHN news anchor host Brigitte Jones interviewed successful innovator, Majida La Luz, owner of Calle Play, who started a new concept to reinvigorate happiness in adults. Her conversation stemmed from the inner being of a person's emotions, and how to form it into happy moments. This fourth forum would be the precursor to the fifth, the NBEW 2023 experience, the following week.

On February 22, 2023, The National Black Estheticians' Week (NBEW) featured skincare experts who answered questions from the public regarding skin maintenance. The forum that was supposed to be no more than 90 minutes went over two hours long due to the many questions being asked in the live chatroom from the engaged audience.

The following night, The International Truth and Justice Tribunal (ITJT) streamed the ‘ITJT Preview and Press Event’ live to promote its inaugural conference event, The International Belgium-Congo Tribunal, to be hosted at Emory University in October. The live forum, hosted by Julia Dudley Najieb, lead with a candid 26-minute film, ("Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth") on how the African indigenous people located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been treated for centuries.

The historical narrative of the constant pillaging of valuable resources from other countries also came from testimonials of the residents residing there now. Appearing live on zoom, each presenter spoke about the studies they will present in October.

Also, NBEW held its second forum featuring the 2023 Luminaries. The purpose of the live broadcast hosted by NBEW founder, Tiffany Medois was to showcase top Black estheticians throughout the Unites States doing great work for their clients and local communities.

Eight live forums later, the BHN Virtual Event Center has proven to be an incredible resource for the online community, allowing immediate audience engagement via the platform "info eggs," live chatroom, and pertinent dialogue about the Black experience.

To close out Black History Month, BHN featured a final live forum concerning mental health in the Black community Tuesday, February 28, 2023. BHN anchor and show host, Ken McCoy, spoke with Dr. Thema Bryant who is the 2023 president of the American Psychological Association, and with University of Michigan psychology professor, Dr. Kevin Cokley. It was a beginning part 1 discussion, first touching on the topic of mental health, which will be followed by a longer part 2 discussion during Juneteenth on mental illness in the Black community and its affects.

People can still watch the mental health broadcast available in the Town Hall Room now thru mid March, (sign into the virtual platform for free.) All the forums will then circulate on the Black Headline News platform for the general online viewing public.

Meanwhile, people are encouraged to explore the different virtual rooms and click on the "info eggs" to learn more about Black History and other interesting historical tags. There is also an online camera in the room for people to take their own pictures and share them online, which is encouraged.

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp shared her photo during Black History Month.

About Dr. Thema Bryant

Dr. Thema Bryant is the 2023 president of the American Psychological Association, the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology with more than 120,000 members (

Dr. Bryant completed her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Duke University and her post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical Center’s Victims of Violence Program. Upon graduating, she became the Coordinator of the Princeton University SHARE Program, which provides intervention and prevention programming to combat sexual assault, sexual harassment, and harassment based on sexual orientation.

She is currently a tenured professor of psychology in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University, where she directs the Culture and Trauma Research Laboratory. Her clinical and research interests center on interpersonal trauma and the societal trauma of oppression. She is a past president of the Society for the Psychology of Women and a past APA representative to the United Nations. Dr. Bryant also served on the APA Committee on International Relations in Psychology and the Committee on Women in Psychology.

The American Psychological Association honored her for Distinguished Early Career Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest in 2013. The Institute of Violence, Abuse and Trauma honored her with their media award for the film Psychology of Human Trafficking in 2016 and the Institute honored her with the Donald Fridley Memorial Award for excellence in mentoring in the field of trauma in 2018. The California Psychological Association honored her for Distinguished Scientific Achievement in Psychology in 2015. She is the editor of the APA text Multicultural Feminist Therapy: Helping Adolescent Girls of Color to Thrive.

About Dr. Kevin Cokley

Dr. Kevin Cokley is a researcher and psychology professor at the University of Michigan. His research can be broadly categorized in the area of African American psychology, with a focus on racial and ethnic identity development, academic motivation and academic achievement. A theme of much of his research is understanding the psychological and environmental factors that impact African-American student achievement.

Dr. Cokley’s research and scholarship has led him to challenge the notion that African American students are anti-intellectual, and to critically re-examine the impact of racial and ethnic identity on academic achievement. In recent years he has started exploring the impostor phenomenon and its relationship to mental health and academic outcomes among minoritized students.

A theme of much of his research is understanding the psychological and environmental factors that impact African American student achievement.

His research and scholarship have sought to advance our understanding of one of the most pressing educational issues of our time: the underachievement of African American students. Sensitivity to cultural and racial factors as central, and not peripheral to psychological inquiry is a characteristic of much of his research.


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