2018 Black Love Summit: Encouraging Healthy Relationships
by Black Love Team



October 9, 2018


12 Minute Read


2018 Black Love Summit: Encouraging Healthy Relationships

My marriage, at the beginning, I liken to my daddy’s suit –– it was too big and I had to grow into it.” – Record Producer and Pastor, Warryn Campbell

Niecy Nash & Jay Tucker snuggle up during “Clips and Conversation”

When BLACK LOVE series co-creator Tommy Oliver uttered the words “we are not here to judge but to learn from different perspectives,” it became clear that was the through line in every discussion at the first ever Black Love Summit, held at the W Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles, CA on October 7th.   

The creative minds behind the event, Tommy & Codie Elaine Oliver, produced an enchanting atmosphere of transparency and fellowship with 10 panels that provided singles and couples authentic relationship tools for prosperity and longevity.  

Each conversation provided a unique insight on love and the work it takes to grow a relationship that will leave a healthy and long-lasting legacy.

To start the day off, Comedian Chris Spencer & wife, Vanessa, set the tone of how real and raw the panel couples were willing to get in one of the two morning panels, Married While Parenting. Married While Parenting tackled communicating, balancing a spouse’s heavy travel schedule, and bringing a spouse back into the family dynamic upon returning from the road — all while juggling the responsibility of raising children. “Coming back was like jumping into double-dutch with ropes on fire…Where do I fit it?” Chris said, only half-way joking.

Next door, Aspire TV presented Mistakes Singles Make, a panel with relationship coach Dr. Aesha and Leslie Antonoff of Aspire’s hit cooking show Bread+Butter.  “Dating is a skill set that takes intentionality and methodology, and yes, in 2018, it is okay for women to date multiple men at the same time,” said Dr. Aesha. And yes, that whole conversation went all the way into the cave of taboo, as it stepped on the toes of older generational ideals with mention of sexual liberation –– and we hadn’t even had lunch yet.

Round two of panels began with the Husbands Panel featuring Lance Gross, Chris Spencer, Devale Ellis, Robbie Jones and moderator, Tommy Oliver. The fellas were asked How do your wives build you up?”, “How do you, as husbands, deal with temptation?” and “What makes you feel loved?”. 

Tommy Oliver, Devale Ellis, Robbie Jones and Lance Gross, “Husbands Panel”

Everyone in the room leaned in as animated and comedic descriptions were given by Ellis of how physical touch plays a huge role in his marriage.  Gross went in on what to do when another woman slides in the DMs: “You must set boundaries and check people first. It’s not your wife’s job to police those things.”

While the men got all the way real, the Finance Woes conversation was held in the next room with finance expert Tonya Rapley and Ashley & Bryan Chea who were featured in Season 1 of the BLACK LOVE series. A couple who had a child in their first year of dating and didn’t marry for another 7 years, Ashley and “Chea” spoke to abandoning gender roles while building generational wealth through temporary sacrifice, intentionality, and the education of the next generation on money. “A lot of people don’t take into account everything they’re spending on a monthly and weekly basis. Where’s the direction of the family going? In order for us to really have a chance at creating generational wealth, we need to take dynamic opportunities to set up the next play,” Chea said.  

Khadeen & Devale Ellis

“I just don’t want this day to end,” one woman sitting in the audience said with genuine sincerity.  An enthusiastic response from the room followed in agreement.  You could feel in the atmosphere a sense of relief that multiple dynamics of authentic love stories were being shared.

The Summit’s midday break consisted of an intimate outdoor luncheon giving attendees space to mingle and debrief. Keynote speakers Devale & Khadeen Ellis, tag-teamed a speech that highlighted their rocky journey to building the empire they now exude today. “My wife builds me up by being a doer. If I have a desire to build a company, and I share this idea with her, the next day she’ll have an LLC,” said Devale Ellis. Devale added that he’s been told numerous times “I need a Devale” or “I need a Khadeen,” but when they met as teenagers neither was a portion of the partner they are now. “Everyone wants a finished product..but are you willing to deal with Devale at 18 all the way to 34?” he added.

The second half of the day began with the wives speaking their truth in the Wives Panel with Ryan Michelle Bathe, Ashley Chea, Aonika Thomas, Khadeen Ellis and moderator Vanessa Spencer, all ladies featured in the record setting BLACK LOVE series on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Ryan Michelle Bathe, “Wives Panel”

We are the first generation to do this on our own; multiple children, lives, doing it all by ourselves not living near family…parenting is not a sport to be done alone…we have to outsource our village,” said Ryan

speaking on how to maintain the you that once existed, create moments of self-care, and raise kids in the current political climate. Speaking on the current political climate, Aonika said: “It taught me to teach [my daughter] to be unapologetically Black.” In regards to communicating with her children about the separation of immigrant families and being Black in America, she stated that, “To have to have that conversation with littles is very hard.”

And who said “happily ever after” didn’t take work? High school sweethearts Catrina & Neil Brown Jr. dismantled that ideal in their conversation with Relationship Coach/TV personality Diann Valentine discussing Seasons of Marriage. After almost two decades of marriage (a few of the early years Neil describes himself as being a “knucklehead”), the couple confirms that

“Happily ever after doesn’t happen without knowing how to weather storms.”  

In our final round of dual panel discussions, Erica & Warryn Campbell unashamedly spilled every bit of tea as they

Erica & Warryn Campbell, “Faith + Marriage”

discussed overcoming adultery through faith at their Faith + Marriage panel moderated by Edwina Findley.  In speaking on her immediate reaction after her husband disclosed his adultery, Erica Campbell said, “I’m real mad, but I’m not leaving. When you really love someone, you can’t kill them even if you want to.” And on navigating forgiveness, she stated, “I asked God to deliver me from my unforgiveness, and He did.”  Warryn Campbell went on to talk about the role therapy played in healing their relationship: “We got help. Therapy is awesome. We perish in that area a lot as Black people.”

With the subjects that hit the core of Black Love covered, the summit moved on to juggling love and business, specifically, Relationship and Entrepreneurship with full time make up artist Felicia LaTour & her entrepreneur fiancé Gavin Mathieu and Comedian Kevin Fredericks & wife Melissa. The couples discussed what it means to pursue your passions and dreams while maintaining a healthy marriage with moderator Diann Valentine returning. Kevin Fredericks weighed in stating, “If I don’t make it my way with family intact, then I don’t make it. To protect the family, we create work boundaries.”

Felicia LaTour next to Kevin & Melissa Fredericks, “Marriage and Entrepreneurship”

In society today, love has been hijacked by perfectly shaped red hearts and consumerism. Through social media and TV programming, it’s easy to fall victim to the idea of true love being perfect, without fault. This can make it hard to see that it takes true sacrifice to keep love alive. The couples that were chosen to be a part of the panels highlighted the fight and sacrifice

it takes to experience a version of love that’ll never waver based on circumstance. Each panelist revealed a beautiful grit and sticktoitiveness in their personal love stories that made love extremely tangible.

Loving summit attendees, Viergeni & Aaron White

And just to make sure no one left without a to-go container, the dessert of the day was a Clips and Conversation couch sesh with Niecy Nash, her husband, Jay Tucker, and Codie & Tommy Oliver. Jay stressed that the key to marriage is to “stay committed to the commitment.”  And to round out the night, Tommy shared his wisdom with this thought, “Shit’s gonna happen, you’re going to hate the shit out of the person next to you, but when you’re committed to seeing it through, those moments are just moments and aren’t the deal breaker.”

The first ever Black Love Summit served up to its attendees a variety of real relationships that were willing to be vulnerable, open and authentic about their true love stories, warts and all.  Thankfully for us, we can take these nuggets of wisdom home as leftovers from a soul satisfying day.