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Nov. 4, 2009

Smith Celebrates 20 Years of Thinking Through Race

oteliaNORTHAMPTON, Mass. — Amid a year charged with economic and political change and challenge, Smith College will celebrate the 20-year anniversary of an annual event intended to honor diversity and appreciate difference while acknowledging our common humanity.

Every November since 1989, Smith has celebrated Otelia Cromwell Day in honor of the college’s first African-American graduate. More than a century after Cromwell graduated in 1900, the nation and the world have progressed in countless ways toward inclusion, though glaring inequities still exist.

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, Otelia Cromwell Day 2009, with the theme “Thinking Through Race at Smith College,” will invite three former presidents of the college to speak on a panel with President Carol T. Christ.

Jill Ker Conway (president, 1975-1985), Mary Maples Dunn (president, 1985-1995, who established the first Otelia Cromwell Day in 1989), John Connolly (acting president, 2001-02, and provost, 1995-2001), and Christ (president since 2002) will speak on “Challenges and Opportunities and Lessons Learned” beginning at 1 p.m. (see complete event schedule).

Joining the presidents on the panel will be three Smith alumnae and former student leaders, Selina Yoon ’83, Monica De Los Santos ’95, and Dana Brown ’99. The panel will be moderated by Ginetta Candelario ’90, associate professor of sociology.

In addition to the panel, Nikky Finney, award-winning poet and professor of creative writing at the University of Kentucky, will read a new poem commissioned by the college to honor Otelia Cromwell. The panel will be followed by a workshop led by current student leaders, titled “Forging Connections: The Relevance and Importance of Cultural Organizations in the 21st Century at Smith,” and several intergroup dialogues on race.

In the evening, as part of Otelia Cromwell Day, Smith will host The Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble at the Academy of Music in downtown Northampton. The event is open to the public. Tickets ($25 for general admission, $5 for Smith students) are available through the Academy of Music box office either online or by calling 413-584-9032.

All Otelia Cromwell Day events on campus are free, open to the public and wheelchair-accessible. Attendees who need disability accommodations or sign language interpretation should call 413-585-2071 (voice or TTY), or send email to


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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