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Cromwell Day 2021

For our annual celebration of Cromwell Day, the Smith community will come together to explore diversity, racism and inclusion. This year’s theme, “Collective Imagining of Anti-Racist Democracies: Fighting for Racial Justice,” builds on the collegewide Year on Democracies events and calls on us to unite to design a better, more inclusive and equitable world. 

The celebration—to be held on Thursday, November 4—will feature workshops, speakers, readings and other events. 

The plenary address is an in-person event for campus community members in the Smith College testing program and will be held in John M. Greene Hall. Members of the general public are invited to watch the keynote address via livestream on Smith’s Facebook page. All other sessions are open only to Smith students, faculty and staff.

LaTosha Brown Delivers 2021 Keynote Address

LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter

Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter, Award-Winning Visionary Thought Leader, Institution Builder, Cultural Activist & Artist

LaTosha Brown is a nationally recognized expert in Black voting rights and voter suppression, Black women’s empowerment and philanthropy.

She is also a connector; her voice is the nexus between the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement and Black Lives Matter.

“There is power in my voice! It is a divine gift that I use to connect different worlds. I bridge the philanthropy world to the grassroots community, traditional politics to grassroots politics, and practitioners to the scholarship of movement building.

Brown is the co-founder of Black Voters Matter, the Black Voters Matter Fund and the Black Voters Matter Capacity-Building Institute. These initiatives are designed to boost Black voter registration and turnout, as well as increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities.

She is also the visionary, founder and co-anchor of a regional network called the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium—a $100 million, 10-year initiative to invest in organizations that serve Black women and girls. The consortium seeks to create a new approach to philanthropy by allowing every component of the program, inception to execution, to be created by Black girls and women in the South.

Brown serves as the 2020 Hauser Leader at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School, the 2020 Leader in Practice at Harvard Kennedy School’s Women and Public Policy Program, and a 2020–21 American Democracy Fellow at the Charles Warren Center at Harvard.

She has worked in 23 countries, including Kenya, Guyana and Brazil. Her next mission involves resourcing and empowering women across the Diaspora. “I don’t want women to be seen as victims; they are the problem solvers for the world. I am convinced that Black women are going to liberate the world!”

Brown has received numerous awards and accolades for her work. She has been featured on ABC, CBS, CNN, Democracy Now and PBS. Her op-eds have been showcased in The New York Times, Politico and Essence. Her work has also been highlighted in several docuseries: What’s Eating America? American Swamp and Finding Justice.

Schedule Overview

Activity Time
Drop-in Art-Making Activity
10 a.m.–noon
Resting for (A) Change: Collectively Imagining a World Beyond Racism
10:30–11:30 a.m.
Conversation with Amanda Williams
10:30–11:30 a.m
Ceremony and Keynote Address
Reimagining American Democracy:
The Role of Women, Young Voters and People of Color in American Politics
Note: In person event for Smith community members in the Smith testing program. This will be livestreamed only and will not be available after the event.
1:30–3 p.m.
  • Q&A with LaTosha Brown
  • Cross-Class Dialogue Panel, moderated by Queen Lanier 
  • Prayer as Collective Re-Imagining, with Kim Alston and Matilda Cantwell
  • Connections Across Time, Workshop with the Black Students Alliance
  • Private Screening of Where I Became and Panel Discussion
  • Hip-Hop Dance with Shakia Johnson
  • Pelo Malo, Screening and Discussion with Latin American Students Organization
3:15–4:45 p.m.

Detailed Schedule

Smith students, faculty and staff are invited to participate and must register via the links below using their Smith email. Events will be added as the details are finalized.

Activity, 10 a.m.–noon

Drop-in Art Making Activity
Hillyer Hall, Atrium
This project brings together images, works of art and words from our community that reflect on Otelia and Adelaide Cromwell’s legacies and this year’s theme, “Collective Imagining of Anti-racist Democracies: Fighting for Racial Justice.” Those in Smith's COVID-19 screening program are invited to this in-person art-making activity. We will display the resulting communal work of art during the Cromwell Day plenary, online and at various campus locations afterwards. (Submissions will be reviewed by the Cromwell Committee for appropriateness to the theme.)


Workshop, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

Resting for (A) Change: Collectively Imagining a World Beyond Racism with Benita Jackson, professor of psychology
This Zoom meeting will begin to gently integrate the learnings from this day important to our campus community, and our times more broadly, by inviting attendees to participate in a community nap with other motivated but weary folks interested in personal growth for social transformation. Nurture leadership development in a perhaps most unexpected way with this one-hour introduction to Daring to Rest—a profoundly healing practice that involves lying down, resting and resetting one's nervous system to refresh and plug back in to the personal power that fuels collective healing. You may close your eyes for as much of this Zoom meeting as you like. Jackson’s scholarship, teaching and community work explore ways to promote personal and community health as keys to social change. She directs the Society, Psychology and Health Laboratory on campus. 

Note: Participation is limited; registration required. The Zoom room will open a few minutes before 10:30 a.m. and will be closed to new attendees at 10:35 a.m.


Workshop, 10:30–11:30 a.m.

Conversation with Amanda Williams, artist
Moderated by Raven Fowlkes-Witten, program and outreach coordinator, Office for Equity and Inclusion

In 2017, after a year of activism co-led by Raven Fowlkes-Witten, students made and installed Black Lives Matter banners on their Smith houses and have since remade the banners each fall. Inspired by these banners and the activism behind them, artist Amanda Williams designed banners for the museum’s facades as part of a commission titled An Imposing Number of Times. 

This workshop draws on Smith history and uses these banners as subjects of discussion and art making. Explore such questions as: How do public declarations conflict with what occurs inside the buildings on which they appear? For whom do traditions create belonging? How is the idea—versus the reality—of Blackness valued at Smith? What happens when a tradition arrives before a place is fully ready to receive it?

This workshop is open to all Smith students, staff and faculty, but participation is limited to 25. It will be held partially outdoors, at various sites in and around the Brown Fine Arts Center.


Ceremony and Keynote Address, 1:30–3 p.m.

Collective Imagining of Anti-Racist Democracies: Fighting for Racial Justice
John M. Greene Hall
This event is in person for the Smith College community participating in the testing program. The general public is welcome to view the livestream of the event but should be aware it is livesteamed only, and will not be available following the event conclusion.


Kathleen McCartney, President; Floyd Cheung, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion

Musical Selection 
“Lift Every Voice and Sing,” by James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson
Led by the Smiffenpoofs

The Life and Legacy of Otelia Cromwell, Ph.D., and Adelaide Cromwell, Ph.D.
Jennifer DeClue, Professor of the Study of Women and Gender

Poetry Reading
“Maven” by Nikky Finney, read by Sierra Fraser

Introduction of Keynote Speaker
Floyd Cheung

Keynote Address
LaTosha Brown, Co-Founder of Black Votes Matter
“Reimagining American Democracy: The Role of Women, Young Voters and People of Color in American Politics”

Floyd Cheung

Workshops, 3:15–4:45 p.m.

Q&A with LaTosha Brown (one hour), moderated by Floyd Cheung
Stoddard Hall G2, 3:15–4:15 p.m.

Cross-Class Dialogue Panel with Queen Lanier, Office for Equity and Inclusion 
Leo Weinstein Auditorium, 3:15–4:45 p.m.
This panel discussion allows attendees of the original Cross-Class Dialogue sessions to share their experiences; other staff members are invited to join the conversation and ask questions. (For faculty and staff only.)

Prayer as Collective Reimagining with the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life
Helen Hills Hills Chapel, 3:15–4:45 p.m.
How might prayer be integral to collective reimagining? Join Kim Alston, Muslim ​student ​adviser, and Matilda Cantwell, director and college chaplain, for an interfaith participatory workshop on prayer, in which we will practice and learn about prayer in different spiritual and wisdom traditions. In these times, when interfaith cooperation is urgent, we will explore how we can learn from one another in a multireligious​/​secular context and how collaborative contemplative practices are a key component for creating social change. Activities will be both guided and group generated. All are welcome, regardless of spiritual, religious, non​religious and ​cultural faith backgrounds.

Connections Across Time: An Interactive Imagining of Racial Justice with the Black Students Alliance
Mwangi Cultural Center, 3:15–4:45 p.m.
The BSA is excited to commemorate this year’s Cromwell Day, focusing on the theme: “Collective Imagining of Anti-racist Democracies: Fighting for Racial Justice.” The organization will be holding space to focus on anti-racist progress and celebrate Black student life. Participants will write letters to Otelia and Adelaide Cromwell that reflect on their contributions from the past, where we stand in the present day, and the future of Black life at Smith. These notes will be included in a time capsule, which will hold other precious items, to be displayed in the Mwangi Cultural Center. The workshop, which is open to all, will center on Black students and employees.

Private Screening of Where I Became and Panel Discussion
Graham Hall, Brown Fine Arts Center, 3:15–6 p.m. (requires registration)
Where I Became
is a documentary film presenting the stories of 14 South African women who left families, communities and Apartheid oppression to pursue their dreams of education at Smith College. Filmed in South Africa and Smith College from 2016 to 2020, the film traces the experiences of these scholars, who embraced courage, faith and resilience to pursue opportunity and become the women they were meant to be. The production team for Where I Became includes Northampton-based director Kate Geis; producers Jane Dawson Shang ’82 and Tandiwe Njobe ’94; and associate producer Council Brandon ’20 (Thinta Films, LLC). A panel discussion with the filmmakers will follow the film.


Hip-Hop Dance Workshop and Performance with Shakia Barron
Davis Ballroom, 3:30–4:30 p.m.

Pelo Malo: Screening and Discussion with the Latin American Students Organization
Campus Center 103 3:30–5:30 p.m.
Pelo Malo 
centers around Afro-Venezuelans and the concept of “bad hair” in the context of those of Afro Latinx descent. A discussion will follow the film. The workshop is open to all.

Cromwell Day Committee 2021

  • Chris Aiken
  • Kim Alston
  • Joanne Benkley
  • Nimisha Bhat
  • Floyd Cheung
  • Emma Chubb
  • Anaiis Cisco
  • Andrea Fernandes
  • Raven Fowlkes-Witten
  • Queen Lanier
  • Sam Masinter
  • Wayne Ndlovu
  • L’Tanya Richmond
  • Davis Rivera


Toward Racial Justice at Smith - A Living Document for Community Comment

In this time of urgent racial crisis, we emerge from ongoing planning into powerful action.

With recommendations from our Toward Racial Justice at Smith plan, Smith College continues its commitment to transparency, to inclusivity and to racial justice at Smith. Informed by student, staff and faculty voices to Inclusion in Action work, as well as student and alumnae/i demands, discussions with the Inclusion Council and Presidents’ Cabinet, the college commits to action.