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The excitement was so high the weekend of the event that it was palpable. There were about 80 people in attendance, including attendees, sponsors, and vendors. One attendee traveled from Alaska, and two came from Canada, so the conference is now international! It was amazing. A FEW MEMORABLE MOMENTS At one point, a massage student who recently graduated stopped me in the hallway to tell me how grateful he was to be sponsored by one of our "Sponsor a Student" promotions. He was also grateful for his first massage therapy conference being the Black Massage Therapist Conference. During the conference, a massage therapist who had been following me online approached me because she related to my journey; both of us grew up in housing projects in New York City, had similar academic journeys, and excelled, despite the odds. She was overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry. I also had the opportunity to see some massage therapists who I networked with online and met them in person for the first time. Their attendance at this conference showed how much they support me, the mission, and the vision of the conference. THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT I see the number of conference attendees growing every year, and I hope we continue to spread globally. My hope is that the sponsorships, vendors, and school involvement also grow. I would like for the sponsors and vendors to see how this niche market is just as important as the other massage conferences. If they can put their resources toward professional development and business growth, both parties will benefit greatly. I would like to see more massage corporations and franchises get involved by sponsoring the conference and sponsoring their Black employees to attend; according to the 2019 US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 8.8 percent of massage therapists are Black. 1 For more information, go to Note 1. Oluwakemi Balogun and Ann Blair Kennedy, "Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Massage Therapy Profession," International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork 13, no. 3 (August 2020): 1–5, www.ncbi.nlm. Davonna Willis is a respected health and wellness practitioner, an acclaimed entrepreneur, and educator. She is a passionate advocate for her clients and students. She has a master's in health education and bachelor's in athletic training and has more than 20 years of experience in the health and wellness field. You can check out 4 Nineteen's education and training classes at A B M P m e m b e r s ea r n F R E E C E h o u r s by rea d i n g t h i s i s s u e ! 19 BLACK MASSAGE THERAPIST CONFERENCE Editor's note: The first Black Massage Therapist Conference was held October 14 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The event was rich with tradition, support, learning, and encouragement, and ABMP was proud to be a sponsor in attendance. What follows is conference president Davonna Willis's account of the event. Inaugural Black Massage Therapist Conference By Davonna Willis

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