Award-winning Blogger Latoya Peterson to Deliver Keynote Address November 8

oteliacromwellNORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Instant information and interaction have become commonplace throughout the world with the pervasion of digital media and widespread Internet access. Social media has led to new processes of organizing people—from flash mobs to mass protests in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries struggling for change.

What impacts are these new technologies making on our views and attitudes about race, class, ethnic and other social differences? How is social media changing who controls information? How might access to more and quicker information change how we regard each other?

This year’s Otelia Cromwell Day, on Thursday, Nov. 8, will feature a keynote lecture by Latoya Peterson, owner and editor of the award-winning Weblog,, who will answer those and more questions about social media and its impact on activism and social justice.

Peterson’s discusses issues at the intersection of race and pop culture, providing a hip-hop feminist and anti-racist view. A digital media expert, Peterson has published works in Spin, Vibe, The American Prospect, The Atlantic Blog, Bitch magazine, The and The Guardian.

The keynote event will begin at 1 p.m. in Sweeney Auditorium, Sage Hall.  Related workshops and an evening concert will also be part of the program, and all events are free and open to the public. (See schedule below).

The annual symposium, named for the first African-American graduate from Smith College, in 1900, reflects on issues of social justice and injustice with particular focus on diversity and racism in the United States.

The daylong event, for which afternoon classes are canceled, will conclude with an evening performance by Shaha: The Storytellers, a diversity peer education troupe from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Otelia Cromwell, the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate at Yale University, was a professor and chair of the English Language and Literature Department at Miner Teachers College in Washington, D.C. The author of three books and many articles, Cromwell received an honorary degree from Smith in 1950.

Otelia Cromwell Day 2012

Thursday, Nov. 8

1 p.m., Sweeney Auditorium, Sage Hall

Keynote address given by Latoya Peterson, editor of, and digital media consultant.

“Against Pearl Clutching: Rebels, Renegades, and Critical Resistance,” a look at social rebellion and historical revision through the lens of pop culture, including discussion about “Pearls and Cashmere,” campus racism, and the politics of exclusion.

Peterson’s talk will be preceded by a performance by the Smith College Glee Club, and a recitation, by Meredith Nnoka ‘13, of Maven, a poem commissioned by Smith in honor of Otelia Cromwell, written by award-winning poet Nikky Finney.

3 p.m. (following keynote event), various campus locations

Related workshops

“Learning from the Civil Rights Movement: The Problem of Political Activism in the Age of (Corporate) Social Media”
Presenter: Kevin Rozario, associate professor of American studies
Ford Hall 240, Case Study Room

“Bridging the Gaps: Solidarity Beyond Clichés”
Presenter: Latoya Peterson
Earle Recital Hall, Sage

“Pearls and Complacency? Tumbling Elitism, Co-opting Resistance”
Presenter: Neda Maghbouleh ‘04
Neilson Browsing Room

“Diversity’s Promise for Excellence: Building Capacity for a Pluralistic Society”
Presenter: Daryl Smith, professor of education and psychology, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California
Campus Center Room 103-104

Shaha: The Storytellers interactive workshop
McConnell Hall 103

7:30 p.m., John M. Greene Hall, Performance: Shaha: The Storytellers

Friday, Nov. 9, 8 p.m., Mwangi Cultural Center, “Weaving Voices,” a student-led spoken-word and open microphone performance.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063
Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190