Skip Navigation

Cromwell Day 2022

For our annual celebration of Cromwell Day, the Smith community will come together on Tuesday, November 15, around the theme “Ignorance Is Not Bliss: The Necessity of Teaching and Learning about Race.” This theme confronts national movements including the banning of books about slavery in K–12 schools and the gerrymandering of voting districts, as well as the history of race and anti-racism at Smith. Understanding the significance of race and anti-racism locally and beyond is critical to being an informed member of society.

Dr. Crystal Fleming is the perfect keynote speaker on this theme, as she is the author of How to Be Less Stupid About Race. In addition to her plenary address, Cromwell Day will feature workshops, readings and other events. The day will conclude with a hip-hop dance workshop and performance led by Dr. Shakia Barron. The student, staff and faculty members of the Cromwell Day Committee thank all community members who made suggestions and contributed to elements of the day’s program.

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.

Crystal Fleming to Deliver Keynote Address

Dr. Crystal Fleming

Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at Stony Brook University, State University of New York, and a Critical Race Theory Scholar

Dr. Crystal Fleming is an author, public intellectual and expert on global racism and white supremacy. Her critically acclaimed primer, How To Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy and the Racial Divide, combines memoir, critical race theory, social commentary and satire to debunk common misconceptions about racism. The book earned a starred Kirkus review and has been widely praised as essential anti-racist reading. Her recent book, RISE UP! How You Can Join the Fight Against White Supremacy, is a young adult nonfiction work that explores the roots of racism and its modern-day legacies, while empowering young people with actionable ways to create a more just and equitable world.

Schedule Overview

Activity Time
Morning Workshops
  • If Ignorance Is Not BLISS—What Is? Closing Your Eyes to Wake Up, Benita Jackson
  • Restore, Reflect, Respond: Drop-In Art Making and Tea, Nina Pelaez

10:30–11:30 a.m.

10 a.m.–12 noon

Ceremony and Keynote Address
The Light of Truth: How Antiracist Education Fuels Social Justice
Note: In-person event for Smith community members. This will be livestreamed only and will not be available after the event.
1:30–3 p.m.
Afternoon Workshops
  • Q&A with Crystal Fleming, moderated by Floyd Cheung
  • Everyone Can Sing: Learning Justice Choir Songs, with Arianne Abela
  • Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism for Our Times, Meridians
  • The Role of Black Spirituality in Black Liberation, with the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life
  • Identity Mosaic: Exploring the Intersection Between Class and Race, with Toby Davis and Marjorie Valdivia
  • The Power Behind Your Words, Black Students Alliance
  • Black Foundations of Latinx Culture: The Untold Origins of Salsa Dancing, Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and Smithies of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA)
3:15–4:45 p.m.
Hip Hop Dance Performance
Shakia Barron
5–6 p.m.
Poetry Reading
Kiki Petrosino
7 p.m.

Detailed Schedule

Events will be added as the details are finalized.

Morning Workshops, 10 a.m.–12 noon

If Ignorance Is Not BLISS—What Is? Closing Your Eyes to Wake Up with Benita Jackson, professor of psychology
Leo Weinstein Auditorium, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
In the face of uncertainty and unrest, resting is a radical act toward racial justice. Join health psychology professor Benita Jackson to explore rest as a catalyst toward building leadership for an inclusive, sustainable society—that is, BLISS. After remarks about what rest is and is not, she will invite participants to connect with their own experience using the Daring to Rest method—a profoundly healing practice that involves resting one’s nervous system and plugging in to the personal power that fuels collective healing. Counterintuitively to those of us in the belly of the Achievement Machine who have been trained for doing, “simply being” is a sometimes uncomfortable, yet crucial, step in initiating and sustaining social transformation. Come be radical and close your eyes in community for as much of this workshop as you can muster. Wear comfortable clothing. Because of the interactive nature of this workshop, doors will close at 10:40 a.m.

Restore, Reflect, Respond: Drop-In Art Making and Tea, Nina Pelaez
Brown Fine Arts Center Atrium, 10 a.m.–12 noon
The artist and writer Betye Saar (whose work “Ancestral Spirit Chair” is currently on view at the Smith College Museum of Art) has said “It is my goal as an artist to create works that expose injustice and reveal beauty.” We invite you to begin your day with an opportunity to engage in creative practices to help you restore, reflect, and respond as we embark on conversations about justice, antiracism, power, and identity. Drop by the Brown Fine Arts Atrium for tea, snacks, artmaking materials and creative prompts inspired by artists and work in the SCMA’s collection. We will have some ideas to get you thinking and get you started, materials for collaging, creative writing, drawing, and even button making.

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

The Light of Truth: How Antiracist Education Fuels Social Justice
John M. Greene Hall

Afternoon Workshops, 3:15–4:45 p.m.

Q&A with Crystal Fleming, moderated by Floyd Cheung
Stoddard Hall G2

Everyone Can Sing: Learning Justice Choir Songs with Arianne Abela 
Campus Center 205
Learn Justice Choir protest songs and history of protest singing and music-making. We’ll teach and learn songs from the Justice Choir Songbook and learn to write our own Justice Choir songs too!

Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism for Our Times, Meridians
Neilson Browsing Room
This interactive workshop will introduce you to the history of the journal Meridians, which was founded at Smith in 2000 to showcase woman of color feminist knowledge production in all its forms: scholarship, theorizing, creative writing, visual art, performance, activism, etc. Prompted by the 2022 Elizabeth Alexander Creative Writing Award winning poem, “Daughtersong Diaspore” by Barbara Jane Reyes, Professor Traci-Ann Wint and Editor Ginetta E.B. Candelario ’90 will guide a collective poem writing exercise with audience participation.

The Role of Black Spirituality in Black Liberation, with The Center for Religious and Spiritual Life
Helen Hills Hills Chapel
Black Spirituality has been a phenomenon that has shaped Black communities and indigenous societies not only in Africa, from where its indigenous roots can be traced, but also all over the African diaspora including the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States. There are common themes in spiritual traditions that equip adherents with the power to resist, overcome and triumph over adverse and brutal circumstances attributed to Western Imperialism, eurocentrism and colonialism. This workshop will reflect on the vital role of faith, spirituality, ancestral veneration, spiritual practice, the use of faith as a means to chart new realities, and the generational yearning for liberation in the face of oppression, racism and discrimination. Black diasporic spirituality is a form of resistance in and of itself resistance liberation in itself but has often been misunderstood and stigmatized. Black spirituality honors the ancestors and is central to our identity and survival as a people. This workshop will demonstrate that there are many more ways of spirituality than European and Abrahamic traditions and that, Black spirituality transcends religion, incorporating political, cultural, social and spiritual dimensions which represent a force of resistance against westernized oppression. The workshop is sponsored by The Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.

Moderator: Helen Bezuneh ’23; Presenters: Hermanica Thelusca ’23J, Namwiinga Maimbo ’24J, Asst. Prof. of Theatre Jonathan Dent, Hampshire College

Identity Mosaic: Exploring the Intersection between Race and Class, with Toby Davis and Marjorie Valdivia
Seelye 106

Class and Race are often seen as separate identities, sometimes placed in opposition with each other, when so frequently they are interlinked.

In this hands-on and creative session, participants will have the opportunity to create visual mosaic representations of their own experiences with race and class and their connection. They will then have a chance to share their creations with the group if they want.

We will provide materials, however if you prefer to create your mosaic digitally, feel free to bring a laptop or contact Toby Davis or Marjorie Valdivia and we can bring one for you. This workshop is designed for staff and faculty.

The Power Behind Your Words, BSA
Graham Hall, Hillyer
The Black Students’ Alliance welcomes you to learn about the power behind your words. This workshop will be twofold: a presentation and an engaged discussion with the participants. Isabella Davis ’24 and Sierra Fraser ’24 will lead a presentation about micro aggressions, stereotypes, and other forms of racial discrimination toward the Black community—and how ignorance is not an excuse to uphold these stigmas. This presentation will view these issues through a historical lens, which will frame the contemporary implications of racial stigmas that Black people experience everyday. Following this presentation, Destiny Smith ’24 will lead an open forum discussion with guided questions. This event is open to all members of the Smith community. We highly encourage non Black members of the community to attend, participate and truly utilize Cromwell Day for what it is meant to be: a learning experience.

Black Foundations of Latinx Culture: The Untold Origins of Salsa Dancing, Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and Smithies of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA)
Scott Dance Studio
The Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and Smithies of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA) invite you to a workshop on the Africanist elements of the dance genre, Salsa. Originating in Cuba amongst the Afro-Cuban community, the salsa genre is both a dance and musical style with deep Afro-Caribbean and African origins. Salsa has become one of the most popular Latin dances practiced worldwide; however, many are still unaware of the significant contributions the Afro-Latinx community have given to Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus, LASO and SOCA will present a two-part workshop to combat the oppression of Black voices and uncover the often-hidden Black influence on Latinx culture. During the first half, students and faculty will have the opportunity to participate in a one-hour salsa led by Dance Professor Lester Tomé, who will teach us African elements of Salsa. Meanwhile, LASO and SOCA will host a 30-minute informational session in the second half of the workshop.

Hip Hop Dance Performance, 5–6 p.m.

Shakia Barron
Hallie Flanagan Studio, Mendenhall

Poetry Reading, 7 p.m.

Kiki Petrosino
Leo Weinstein Auditorium
Livestreams of this reading will be found on Facebook and YouTube.

Cromwell Day Committee 2022

  • Andrea Fernandes
  • Chris Aiken
  • Cristina Guevara
  • Davis Rivera
  • Egypt Ballet
  • Floyd Cheung
  • Hermanica Thelusca
  • Kim Alston
  • L’Tanya Richmond
  • Nimisha Bhat
  • Queen Lanier
  • Raven Fowlkes-Witten
  • Sahar Mahmood
  • Yao Wu