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The Rev. Al Sharpton Headlining Louisville Black Family Conference

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The Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the keynote address at the University of Louisville’s annual National Conference on the Black Family in Americathis week.

But organizers of this year’s event say it is about celebrating the works of lesser-known civil rights activists as well.Sharpton is a well-known and controversial civil rights leader, who hosts a "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.He's headlining the conference beginning this Thursday, which is part of a university-wide focus on the advances in civil rights made from 1963 to 1968.The three-day event also features sociologist and author Joyce Ladner, who has done groundbreaking workwith her studies of African-American women and poor adolescents. Ladner also served as interim president of Howard University and is considering a leading education reformer.Conference spokeswoman Betty Baye says Ladner is a heroic figure in civil rights history, adding her scholarship is just as important as Sharpton’s public advocacy."More peple don't know who Joyce Ladner is and she's a heroic figure within the movement," she says. "There are people in the Civil Rights Movement who are we are just now getting around I think to acknowledging and giving them their just due. And Joyce Ladner is one of those people."Founded by the late professor Joseph H. McMillan in 1973, the conference setup to help educate families "to become more empowered, engaged, equipped and able to elevate every member" in their communities.Baye says the two speakers represents the movement's past but how the civil rights agenda moves forward for African-American families and communities."Whatever people feel about Rev. Sharpton, I think certainly as far as some of the issues that have been raised today, some of which seem to be an extension of what happened years ago," she says. "Sharpton has been on the front lines. And I think most recently we can think of the Travymon Martin case."The conference is being held at the Hilton Garden Inn located 2735 Crittenden Dr. this year.Its costs $250 to attend the full conference, but tickets can be purchased for individual events such the Sharpton and Ladner talks. You can register here until the end of March 3 or call (502) 852-6656.