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News Release

October 18, 2005

Smith College's Annual Otelia Cromwell Day Series to Explore Race, Class and Access to Social Justice

All events 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 e-mail to by Oct. 28.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—When Otelia Cromwell graduated from Smith College in 1900, becoming the first African American to do so, she helped open the door for minorities seeking access to education. But, more than a century later, higher education remains out of reach for many.

This year’s Otelia Cromwell Day series at Smith, with the theme “Race, Class and Social Justice,” will explore the ramifications of factors that affect equal access to social institutions in the United States. The ability to attend college—as well as secure quality health care, legal recourse and public resources—remains too often determined by race, socio-economic status, disability and religious affiliation.

On Otelia Cromwell Day, Thursday, Nov. 3, Gary Orfield, director of the Harvard Civil Rights Project and a professor of education and social policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, will deliver a keynote address titled “Abandoning a Successful Social Revolution: The Supreme Court and the Resegregation of the South.” Orfield will speak at 1 p.m. in Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall.

The day’s program will continue with the following four simultaneous workshops from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in McConnell Hall:

“What Katrina Revealed: Economic Apartheid in America,” by Felice Yeskel, co-director of Class Action. Room 404

“Equal Education: Access and Community Rights and Responsibilities,” by Paul Wiley, principal of Amherst’s Crocker Farm Elementary School; John Bracey, professor of Afro-American Studies at UMass; and Kim Gerould, teacher at Jackson Street Elementary School. Room B-04

“Race, Class and Faith,” by Martha Ackelsberg and Alice Hearst, Smith faculty members of government, Orfield and The Rev.
Cordella Brown, pastor Wesley United Methodist Church in Springfield. Room B-15

“Theatre as Social Justice Education: Representations of
Race, Class and Disability Identity,”
a presentation by Lynn Manning, a blind African American poet/performer, and Carrie Sandahl, professor of theatre at Florida State University. Room 102

That evening, at 8 p.m. in Theatre 14 at the Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, Manning will present “Weights,” a solo performance about his evolving creativity from childhood poverty to artist.

Other events in the Otelia Cromwell Day series are:

Friday, Oct. 28
“Weapons of Mass Distraction,” a lecture by Yvonne Freeman, director of SECME, a consortium of minorities in engineering at institutions in the southeastern United States. 5 p.m., McConnell Hall, Room B-05

Saturday, Oct. 29
Howard University Choir in concert. 8 p.m., Helen Hills Hills Chapel

Sunday, Oct. 30
Interdenominational Protestant Worship Service with the Rev. Dr. Leon Tilson Burrows and guest Imam Dawud Abdul Salaam. Music by the Howard University Choir. 10:30 a.m., Helen Hills Hills Chapel

Wednesday, Nov. 2
“Where Am I? Artists’ Representations of Race, Class and Social Justice,” a lecture in relation to the Smith College Museum of Art’s collection by Claire Smith, Class of 2006, education intern at the museum. Noon, Smith College Museum of Art

“Theorizing the Personal: Zora Neale Hurston and the Ruby McCollum Trial.” Opening address by the Rev. Katie Geneva Cannon, a professor of ethics at Union Seminary in Virginia and the first African American woman ordained in the United Presbyterian Church. 8 p.m., Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall

Thursday, Nov. 3
“Sounds of Gospel.” The Smith Genesis Gospel Choir, directed by Kevin Sharpe, and the Smith College Choir, directed by Jonathan Hirsh, in concert. Noon, Atrium, Campus Center

Friday, Nov. 4
“Civil Rights/Labor Rights: Women of Color Organizing in the U.S. South,” a presentation by two Black and Latino labor activists: Jaribu Hill, founder/executive director of the Mississippi Workers for Justice, and Ashaki Binta of Black Workers for Justice, United Electrical Workers Local 250. Noon to 2 p.m., Campus Center Rooms 103-104

“Speaking Intersections: Womanist Poems,” written and performed by Lenelle Moise, a Smith graduate and solo performer. 7:30 p.m, Theatre 14, Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, Green St.

Sunday, Nov. 6
Interdenominational Protestant Worship Service with the Rev. Leon Tilson Burrows presiding. The guest preacher will be the Rev. Katie Geneva Cannon on “The Ableness of God.” Music provided by the Genesis Gospel Choir. 10:30 a.m., Helen Hills Hills Chapel

Otelia Cromwell Day was established by former Smith President Mary Maples Dunn in 1989 to provide the college community with an opportunity for further education and reflection about issues of diversity and racism. For more information, consult


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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