Although Marcus Garvey first taught us that  "We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind." It was Bob Marley who through his song Redemption made popular the lyrics/ saying "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, None but ourselves can free our minds." 

 Dr. Ama Muhammad also urges us to remember, "We are the original Aboriginal Indigenous people, and Afrikans in the Diaspora and we deserve to be happy, healthy, safe, and whole.  Our hueman and divine rights are not subjects for nonsensical debate, nor were they granted to us by people openly bent on our total destruction. None other than ourselves can determine who we are or what we deserve, so unapologetically reclaim your birthright, your spiritual essence, and honor our freedom-loving ancestors.”


With that energy in mind, in addition to being a cultural, educational, spiritual and networking event, the Annual International Locks Conference (AILC): Natural Hair, Wholistic Health, and Beauty Expo serves as a necessary shift in the paradigm: a shift from wanting something to happen to actively proclaim our right to be and stay healthy, to enhance a sense of unity, to reclaim our cultural heritage, and to provide a right now-can-do-model of economic development. Collectively, the Kuumba Family Organizing Committee says and demonstrates that we as a people can do great things in unity and self-determination, and for over 25 years it has been a living example of putting powerful thoughts and vision into action, visions and wisdom that have been passed to us from our ancestors. Since 1994, the slogan “The Tradition Continues” has allowed the conference to evolve from “Locks: The Natural Alternative--Annual Locks Conference” into “Annual International Locks Conference (AILC): Natural Hair, Wholistic Health, and Beauty Expo.” Just imagine 25+ years of serving the community; 25+ years of exchanging great information; 25+ years of strategic planning; 25+ years offering good and healthy food; 24+years of cultural fashions; 25+years of honoring our ancestors; 25+ years of soulful drumming and thought-provoking spoken word; 25+years of greeting and meeting new and old friends; 25+years of building, supporting, and helping to start new black businesses; 25+ years of celebrating natural hair, our heritage, and our beautiful loving black families; 25+ years of jaw-dropping natural hairstyling; 25+ years of providing a live platform and venue for seasoned and budding artists; 25+years of learning wholistic approaches to wellness; 25+ years of serving as a model of self-determination and promoting our cultural expression and connections; 25+years of producing an information-packed resource guide, 25+ years of raising consciousness;  25+ years of presenting powerful, beautiful, knowledge-filled scholars; 24+years of de-whitening and  re-Afrikanizing; and 24+years of a spiritual high.


Even though people benefit from all the features, it has become abundantly clear that the AILC is much more than a cultural and educational event, much bigger than an Afro and much more than a fantastic shopping trip. Often times brothers and sisters come to an event, enjoy themselves, go home, yet they have no real idea what is happening behind the scenes or after the last person has gone home. At a time when the call for self-determination is louder than ever, we need to support and continue to help build those institutions /organizations that have consistently served the community and promote nation building. Over the last twenty-one years, the Kuumba Family Organizing Committee has presented the Annual International Locks Conference(AILC): Natural Hair, Wholistic Health and Beauty Expo, and due to its diligence and commitment to self-determination, collective love for the community and the purpose of each-one-reach-one, each-one-teaches-one, the Kuumba Family Organizing Committee has participated and/or initiated the following (Partial List):


  • Formed a 501c3 organization- Kuumba Family Institute, Inc.

  • Entered into a strategic partnership with Let’s Buy Black 365

  • Collected school supplies, clothes, personal hygiene items three+ barrels sent to Ghana

  • Sent money, clothes, and supplies to Haiti

  • Collected items to send to New Orleans in 2005

  • Collected funds for a family whose house burned down (they were surprised at the generosity of the brothers and sisters who came to the Locks Conference and contributed above and beyond what the committee donated)

  • Collected funds to assist two independent schools to keep their doors open

  • Been a micro-incubator for a number of small businesses/ entrepreneurs/craftspeople

  • Trained over 100 volunteers

  • Provided motivation for youth entrepreneurs and organizers

  • Created opportunities for young people to make extra money

  • Actively encouraged family reunification

  • Honored many dedicated community workers through awards and recognition ceremonies

  • Presented panel discussions on many community issues such as domestic violence, institutional racism, political prisoners, media wars, economic development, buy black, relationships, wholistic health and wellness

  • Promoted literacy by introducing the Ida B. Wells Authors' Row

  • Introduced renowned national and international scholars, historians, and artisans to new and old audiences

  • Introduced our community to local, and national wholistic health and wellness service providers

  • Supported and still supports and contributes to area independent charter schools

  • Supported and still supports other African-centered /community organizations such as UNIA-ACL, MWM, NOI, PLM, Supreme Angels, Freedom Expo, Moorish Unification Council of the World Inc., Aboriginal Republic of North America, Natural Childbirth and Indigenous midwife groups, Free Mumia, Political prison groups, Harambee Radio and TV Network, WURD-900 Radio, Radio One, etc.

  • Promoted Event planning workshop sponsored by Kuumba Family Institute, Inc



As the first consistent and authentic cultural and educational natural hair conference, we have supported the growth of other natural hair shows, conventions, and conferences and contributed to the energy of natural hair meet-ups all over the world, especially here in the united states. 

Historical Background


           Although the Locks Conference started with just one day, a jammed packed Saturday, it has grown into two exhilarating days full of excitement, edutainment, delicious healthy food, informative workshops. The following serves as a brief sketch of the conference and highlights. *Because of the multiple workshops that are presented each year, it would be difficult to list all the great speakers/presenters. However, our annual resource guide serves as a clear record of their participation. 


Event - Year              24th  2018 

Location                          Universal Audenried Charter High School          

Guest speaker                Mwalimu and Yaa Baruti, Akbar Muhammad,           

Featured performers:  

Dedication                     Culture, Education Our Own, and Healthy Relationships                    

Theme:                            Culture2 +Liberty Locks= Love



Event - Year              23rd 2017    

Location                          Universal Audenried Charter High School          

Guest speaker                Dr. Marcus Kline, Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr POCC          

Featured performers:  Jahzara Fashion Alchemy, K-love, Richard Raw

Dedication                     Culture, Education Our Own, and Healthy Relationships                    

Theme:                           Spiral Freedom



Event - Year               22th   2016   

Location                          Universal Audenried Charter High School          

Guest speaker                Dick Gregory, Professor Bayyinah Bello,   Nataki Kambon                     

Featured performers:   Goalden Chyld Ursula Rucker, Richard Raw, Tahir RGB, Amun Xkorpious

Dedication                      Self-Determination and Buying Black                   

Theme:                            2 Strong, 2 Black



Event- Year                 21st   2015                  

Location                          Universal Audenried Charter High School                

Guest speaker                 Dr. Marimba Ani, Professor Griff, Dr, Afiya Mbilishaka, Isis Brantley             

Featured performers:   Stroke String trio, Melissa Princess Best, Ruff Mic of Precise Science

Dedication                      Justice or Else

Theme:                            Black is Still Beautiful: Say it Loud, Wear it Proud



Event - Year               20th 2014

Location                          Universal Audenried Charter High School          

Guest speakers               Runoko Rashidi, Imhotep Asis. Fatiu, D’Jehuty Maat-Ra                         

Featured performers:   Jus Greg, Bethlehem, 13th of Nazareth, Tahir RBG

Dedication                      Black Scholars           

Theme:                            20 Year Strong and Still Rocking On



Event - Year                19th  2013

Location                            Imhotep Institute Charter High School         

Guest speaker                   Ayo Handy-Kendi, Dr. Llaila Afrika, Dr. Jacquilen foster-Ali,

                                             Minister Alif Allah                      

 Featured performers:     IllStyle & Peace production,

 Theme:                              Wake Up Rise Up


Event - Year                  18th   2012     

Location                            Imhotep Institute Charter High School          

Guest speaker                  William Muhammad, Minister Akbar Muhammad,

                                            Dr. Kamau & Mawiyah Kambon

Featured performers:    One Sun Lion Ra, Unknown Poet and Queen, David little

Dedication                       Yvette Smalls

Theme:                             Rock’n & Lock’n



Event - Year                17th  2011

Location                           Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School

Guest speaker                 Ras Ben, Dr. Kamau Kambon, Dr. Ali Muhammad, Pam Africa,

                                           Mukasa Afrika

Featured performers:    Voices of Africa Ensemble, Watoto of the Nile,

Dedication                       Gil Scott Heron

Theme:                             Truth Revealed: Natural is Back



Event - Year                 16th   2010

Location                           Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School

Guest speaker                 Mfundishi, Heru Pa-Ur, Tehuti, Esther Iverem

Featured performers:    In the company of poets, Universal Dance & Drum Ensemble,

                                           Mamadou Diaite

Dedication                       Black farmers

Theme:                             The Real Image of Me: Natural, Divine  & Free


Event - Year                 15th 2009

Location                           Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School

Guest speaker                 Dr. Lennell Dade, Kamau Kenyatta, Walter D. Palmer,

                                           Dr. Edward Robinson, Henry DeBernardo 

Featured performers:   Yesser Furaha Ali, Amaris,  Reynald Williams(Betty’s Son)           

Theme:                            Respect the Root



Event - Year                  14th  2008       

Location                           Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School

Guest speaker                 Dalani Aamon, Junious R. Stanton, Senghor Jawara Baye-El

                                           PG-UNIA-ACL, Elizabeth Wellington

Featured performers:   K-Love, Aziza Kinteh, Amun Miraaj-E, Rahnda Rize, Imhotep Dance Co.

Dedication                      Honorable Redman Battle, PG-UNIA-ACL             

Theme:                             Locked on Freedom


Event - Year               13th  2007                   

Location                          Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School

Guest speaker                 Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde, Rych McCain, Marci Walker, Norm Bond          

Featured performers:   Autumn Ashante, Oni Lasana Urban Shaman, BOCA

Dedication:                     Ras Malik, Dr. Asa Grant Hilliard, III                                                                      

Theme:                            Consciousness Raising


Event - Year                12th 2006         

Location                           Local 332 Laborers’ Union Hall

Guest speaker                 Queen Mutima Imani, Lori Tharp                        

Featured performers:    Belly Dancers with MoorHips                      

Dedication                       Rufus Harley & Del Jones /

                                           Hair PieceZ: The Anthology Book was published           

Theme:                              Protect Our Cultural Heritage




Event- Year                 11th   2005                  

Location                           Harambee Institute & Club Damani

Guest speaker                 Sam E. Anderson

Featured performers:   Byard Lancaster, Timi Tanzania

Dedication                      Sharon L. Goodwin                                            

Theme                             Time to Reflect



Event - Year               10th 2004

Location                          Harambee Institute & Club Damani  

Guest speakers              Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde & Queen Mutima Imani                          

Featured performers:  The Fiddler, Belly Dancers of Color (BOCA)


Event - Year               9th  2003

Location                         Harambee Institute  & Club Damani 

Guest speaker               Pamela Hooks, Momma Sandi                    

Dedication                     Nia Sadikwa Bey Al-Rasul



Event - Year             8th   2002       

Location                       Harambee Institute  & Club Damani 

Guest speaker             MaMa Akosua Ali-Sabree               

Dedication                  June Jordan &  Dr. Mattie L. Humphrey



Event - Year             7th  2001

Location                       Temple University

Guest speaker             Jena Renee Williams, Kinky Kreations

Dedication                  Barbara Ann Smith



Event - Year           6th   2000

Location                     Temple University

Guest speaker            Joyce Wilkerson, Mayor Street’s Chief of Staff          

Dedication                  Doris Dean-Hagood, Royalann Midget



Event - Year             5th 1999          

Location                       Community College of Philadelphia

Guest speaker             Mbali Umoja

Dedication                   Kwamé Touré &  Dr. John Henrik Clarke 



Event - Year             4th  1998         

Location                       Berean Institute          

Guest speaker             Tulani Kinard

Dedication                   Kwame Sekou Ra  &   Nana Yaa Anima



Event - Year            3rd 1997                     

Location                      Berean Institute          

Guest speaker             Kamau & Janice Kenyetta



Event - Year            2nd 1996         

Location                      Berean Institute          

Guest speaker             Sam E. Anderson


Event- Year              1st  1995                     

Location                      Temple University     

Guest speaker             Mbali Umoja


Event- Year         1994

Pre-Conference Spoken word sessions and Planning meetings




Our Mailing Address

6801 North 16th street

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19126

Contact Us

TEL: 215-438-8189 / 800 890 5159


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