Our Children Initiative
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In February 2016, The Cradle launched a new initiative called Our Children: An Education and Empowerment Series.

Our Children is a multi-year series of programs and events aimed at educating families about the realities and injustices their children may experience in societal interactions, and providing support to those families

Our goal is to educate families about the realities their children may experience in societal interactions and give parents the tools they need to successfully communicate and navigate these difficult dynamics in positive and productive ways.

Our Children continues to engage families in difficult discussions and help families understand and prepare for realities and injustices their children may face.

To learn more about our past roundtables, please click the links below:
The Color of Education Roundtable
Blog: Why We Chose to Explore the Color of Education
Blog: What We Learned Form the Our Children: Raising Black Girls Roundtable

The Cradle and a Cradle family were featured on CBS Chicago evening news, talking about transracial parenting and the Our Children Initiative. October 5, 2016 


Raising Black Boys Roundtable

Our Children launched with an inaugural program called Raising Black Boys Roundtable. Designed to promote an open and honest dialogue about the realities of raising a Black boy in today’s world. This roundtable featured five prominent community and business leaders who shared their personal insights and professional experiences as Black men and fathers, touching on the unique risk that Black boys face today.

This roundtable aims to give parents the tools and support they need to communicate with and prepare their children for a society that is far from color- blind.  

It has been four years since we launched our first roundtable and we are back to see what, if anything, has changed. We will also include a single mother who is raising a Black boy. What conversations are we having with our boys today? Parents will discuss their own experiences in addition to topics on how to prepare your son for interactions with the police, do’s and don’t for Black boys and how to keep your son safe. 

We are excited to continue the conversation with our Raising Black Boys Roundtable: Revisited. 
On Thursday, February 20, 2020 in partnership with Loyola University Chicago - Loyola School of Law, we will host our second Raising Black Boys Roundtable. This roundtable will take place on at 6:00 p.m. – 9:00p.m. To register please click here.

We have assembled a panel of distinguished African American men who will discuss the realities of being Black men and raising Black boys in today’s society. Panelist will reflect on their childhoods, as well as their current role as the father of Black boys and share openly the types of conversations that are taking place in their own home.

Meet our panelists:

Kenard Gibbs

Kenard Gibbs has been with BET Networks as VP of Midwest Sales in Chicago since 2013.  Kenard was formerly an executive producer of African-American focused media, including award shows and documentaries.  His early career focused on business development at companies including Northern Trust Bank and Leo Burnett.  Gibbs later served as President of Vibe magazine from 1999–2006.  After this post, he served as Group Publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines and served as President of Ebony/Jet Entertainment Group, which further integrated the stories of two brands into television and on the web.

Gibbs was involved with Soul Train Holdings where he has developed a number of license deals that have extended the brand into home DVD, cruise, feature film and lottery game based extensions.  He continues to expand his reach within the African-American community through developing new entertainment, refreshing existing programs, and discovering new talent.

In addition, he has emphasized his role as an executive producer.  He has helped create several new awards shows, including the Vibe Awards, in conjunction with the UPN network. His work also extends to documentaries, including the 2011 Emmy nominated Soul Train “Hippest Trip in America” and “Ebony Fashion Fair: 50 Years of Style” centering on the Ebony Fashion Fair.

Evan J. Roberts

Evan J. Roberts is a children's picture book author and educator. He also writes fiction and non-fiction for teens. Mr. Roberts' interest in writing was influenced by his early experiences as a classroom teacher. He has mentored youth for more than a decade emphasizing the importance of self-education, literacy, developing clarity of purpose, and pursuing excellence in life.

In 2013, Mr. Roberts published, How to Become Influential and Highly Successful: The Young Adult Success Manual. In 2016, Mr. Roberts created the Khahari Discovers series, which is a children's picture book series inspired by his son. This series was designed to positively impact all children, especially Black boys and girls. It is also Mr. Roberts' way of encouraging early literacy and contributing to the positive portrayal of African American families in literature. Mr. Roberts received his Bachelor’s degree from Chicago State University and his Master’s degree from National-Louis University. He currently resides in the greater Chicagoland area with his beautiful wife Leslie and son Gavin. Mr. Roberts provides professional workshops for businesses, schools, churches, and youth organizations. Contact him at evanroberts@ejrbooks.com or visit www.ejrbooks.com for booking request.

Rasheed Sami

Rasheed Sami, is known as Rasheed the Motivator is a Chicago born native youth influencer and musician. Working with Youth is Rasheed’s life's work, seeing their potential and growth brings forth Inspiration for the future. His loving, calm, and happy demeanor can reach any Youth group. This is so imperative due to every Youth having a different story from the next. His Life story of overcoming the odds against him is transformational. His Presentation “The 77 Experience” encompasses Mental and Spiritual Growth via the 5 keys of Influence: Successful Thinking, Overcoming Fear, Dream Power, Reaching Greatness and Personal Growth. The unique presentation that combines open dialogue conversation and Musical variety serves to motivate and inspire all and is truly unlike anything you have experienced. Rasheed will appear as a panelist at our upcoming Raising Black Boys Roundtable.

Pastor Tim Howard

Pastor Tim Howard, Lead Pastor of New Joy Divine Full Gospel is a servant of God, husband, father, and teacher of the Gospel. He leads a life of faith for his family and community and strongly believes that we as Christians prove our walk with Christ through how we live our lives. Pastor Tim has been happily married for 29 years and together he and his wife have grown and preached the gospel for over 25 years and have five beautiful children.

Pastor Tim first accepted the call to ministry in 1993 as a minister and then as an elder in 1999 under the leadership of the late Apostle Aaron L. Royster Sr., founding pastor of New Joy Divine Full Gospel Church. In 2014, Pastor Howard and his wife were given pastorship over the church, where they have influenced their members and community through programs and events such as ShopTalk with Pastor Tim, Sista2Sista, Community Tailgate, Inspirational Prayerline, and Vision 20/20.  

Pastor Tim is committed to loving all people, giving hope, and presenting the gospel to the unchurched in an unconventional and progressive way.

Taj L. Smith Esq.

Taj L. Smith Esq. is the owner and legal counsel of the Smith Law Group, that he started in 2012, where he specializes in criminal law as well as family law dealing with child custody and divorce.

Before joining the Illinois Bar in 2006, Smith worked in the Cook County State’s Attorney Office within the department of civil litigation for three years, before becoming an Assistant State’s Attorney. He spent the next six years in the State’s Attorney office handling a multitude of misdemeanor and felony cases. In his 13 years of work within criminal court, he has witnessed first-hand the different justice systems that exist for minority people.

Smith was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey and relocated to Chicago in 2003 to attend The John Marshall Law School where he earned his Juris Doctor. Prior to attending law school, he worked as a computer programmer and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Computer Science from Rutgers University of New Jersey. 

Smith is the proud father of a 13-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter.

Our Moderator: 

Christian Farr

A graduate of University of Delaware, Christian Farr joined NBC5 News as a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor in August of 2009.

He previously worked at WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” program, as a correspondent for three years.

A member of one of Chicago’s famous broadcasting families, his wife, Karen Jordan, anchors weekends at WLS and his father-in-law, Robert Jordan, anchors weekends at WGN.

Prior to joining WTTW, Farr was a weekend anchor and reporter for the FOX affiliate, WTXF in Philadelphia. He began there as a General Assignment Reporter and also anchored morning news. Both the New York State Broadcasters Association and the Ohio Associated Broadcasters Association have also recognized Farr for his outstanding contributions to the field of broadcast journalism. In 2000, he won the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism award for a series on Dangerous Roads in Ohio.