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Leading Voices on Diversity Issues to Gather at Smith for National Conference

High-Profile Activists and Academics to Develop Concrete Action Plans to Influence National Policy and Educational Opportunity

"Reframing the Affirmative Action Debate," an address by Harvard law professor Lani Guinier, will set the stage for a three-day national conference at Smith designed to consider critical issues, advance educational opportunities and develop policies that will move the United States forward in addressing areas of race and ethnicity.

"What's Next? American Pluralism and the Civic Culture," November 4-6, will bring together "some of the sharpest minds in the country," in the words of Smith President Ruth Simmons, to suggest concrete responses to the pressing challenges of racial and ethnic integration and to find common ground within our diverse society.

In addition to Guinier, noted speakers and panelists include sociologist Nathan Glazer, anthropologist Johnnetta Cole, New York City Board of Education Chancellor Rudolph Crew, immigration specialist Rubén Rumbaut, Former NAACP Chairman Myrlie Evers-Williams, performance artist Anna Deavere Smith, California State Polytechnic University at Pomona President Bob H. Suzuki, Latino Studies Professor Gilberto Cárdenas and NOW Legal Defense Fund Director Kathryn Rodgers.

"Hosting a national conference on racial and ethnic diversity has been a priority of mine since coming to Smith," Simmons explained. "By joining forces with a number of our country's leading voices on these matters, I am convinced that Smith can help bring serious attention to the issues of pluralism that affect not only the core of our educational system but our ability to progress as a nation in a global community."

"Our aim is to go beyond debates about affirmative action," added Peter Rose, Sophia Smith Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and organizer of the conference. "In the next century, if we are to create a more perfect union, we must first address such matters as the relationship of old minorities to new immigrants and the problems of finding common ground within groups divided by generation, class and gender.

"The ultimate challenge, then, is to build coalitions across group barriers and create meaningful, national policies that support those coalitions."

The first session of the conference--which takes place 4:15 - 5:45 p.m. Thursday, November 4, in Wright Hall Auditorium--coincides with an event of special significance at Smith, Otelia Cromwell Day, an annual celebration of Smith's first African-American graduate. "Making a Difference: Smith Activists on Campus and Beyond," will present alumnae from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, as well as current students, discussing students' roles in increasing campus diversity and enhancing integration.

At 8:15 that evening, President Simmons will introduce Guinier, who will deliver the keynote address in John M. Greene Hall. The public is invited to a reception following the lecture at the Gamut in Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, Green Street.

Friday's events begin at 9 a.m in Wright Hall Auditorium with "The Challenge of Pluralism: Old Minorities and New Immigrants," a consideration of common struggles and competition between ethnic groups. Speakers and panelists include Rubén Rumbaut, professor of sociology at Michigan State University; Gilberto Cárdenas, director of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame; Katharine Moon, assistant professor of political science, Wellesley College; Milton Morris, president of Creative Futures International of Washington, DC; and Gary Rubin, assistant executive vice- president for policy at the New York Association for New Americans.

The second session Friday morning, "Inter-Action: The Arts and Social Activism," will take place 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in Wright Hall Auditorium and will feature a variety of perspectives, expressions and performances on race, pluralism and civic culture. Presenters include historical consultant and interpreter Margaret Bruchac, Smith Associate Professor of Dance and Afro-American Studies Yvonne Daniel, InterAct Theatre Education Director Tom Reing of Philadelphia, and New WORLD Theater Artistic Director and University of Massachusetts Theater Professor Roberto Uno.

Following a lunch break, sessions will resume Friday afternoon at 2:15 in Wright Hall Auditorium with "The Challenge of Mutual Respect: Recognizing and Reconciling Differences Within Groups." Emory University Professor of Anthropology, Women's Studies and African-American Studies Johnnetta Cole will present the challenges of addressing generational, gender and class conflicts within racial, religious and ethnic groups. Respondents include George Mason University Professor of Anthropology and English Mary Catherine Bateson, Smith Associate Professor of Theatre and Afro-American Studies Andrea Hairston, and NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund Executive Director Kathryn Rodgers.

Friday's sessions will conclude with two performances designed to illustrate the intersection of activism and the arts.

At 4:15 p.m., in John M. Greene Hall, performance artist Anna Deavere Smith, will present "Snapshots: Glimpses of America in Change." Hailed by Newsweek in 1998 as "the most exciting individual in American theater," Smith is credited with inventing her own form of dramatization, sometimes dubbed "performance journalism," in which she re-interprets interviews with ordinary and famous citizens in order to explore contemporary race and class issues. "Snapshots" is a collection of character dramatizations from Smith's full-length productions and will be followed by a discussion.

At 8 p.m., also in John M. Greene, the noted all-female a capella group "Sweet Honey in the Rock," will present a concert.

Saturday's conference sessions begin at 9 a.m. in Sage Hall with "The Challenge of Unity: Crossing Lines, Forming Coalitions." Participants include Charles V. Willie, professor of education emeritus at Harvard University; Betty Burkes, president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; Rudolph Crew, chancellor of the New York City Board of Education; Evan Dobelle, president of Trinity College; Myrlie Evers-Williams, former NAACP chairman; and Larry Toy, president of the Foundation for California Community Colleges.

The concluding panel of the conference, which takes place 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Saturday in Sage Hall, is titled "What's Next?" Nathan Glazer, professor of education and sociology emeritus at Harvard University; Bob H. Suzuki, president of California State Polytechnic University; and President Simmons of Smith will synthesize the conference proceedings and present a view of future actions and initiatives.

In conjunction with the conference, the college's Hillyer Hall gallery will feature a striking collection of photographs taken during the Depression, World War II and the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and '60s. "In the Shadow of Intolerance"-photographs by Ernest C. Withers, Danny Lyon, E.O. Goldbeck and Yevgeny Khaldei from the collection of Samuel Zaitlin-will be on display Oct. 20 through Nov. 7. Zaitlin will present a gallery talk, in conjunction with Peter Rose and Professor of Government Alice Hearst, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, in Hillyer Hall. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to
8 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

All events associated with "What's Next?" are open to the public. Pre-registration is encouraged. All sessions are free of charge, with the exception of the "Sweet Honey in the Rock" concert. To purchase tickets for that event, call ProTix at (800) 477-6849. For more information or to register for the "What's Next?" conference, call (413) 585-2891.

October 18, 1999


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