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Otelia Cromwell and Election Days 2004

As the political atmosphere heats to a boiling point this fall and Smith community members prepare to cast their votes on November 2, the college will host a series of events that promote civic engagement as part of this year's Otelia Cromwell Day celebration.

The events, reflecting this year's theme "Politics, Participation, Power: The Challenges and Possibilities of Democracy and Diversity," will examine involvement in the processes of democracy, particularly the inclusion of all demographic groups.

"Paralleling the fall elections, our events will highlight issues that address the possibilities and challenges that diversity presents to democracy," explains Kevin Quashie, assistant professor of Afro-American studies and a member of the Otelia Cromwell Day planning committee. "The forthcoming election offers us an opportunity to go a step beyond the discussions of party platforms and agendas toward examing the issues around democracy and participation."

The Otelia Cromwell Day celebration began on September 18 with a lecture on gender and politics by Carol Moseley-Braun, a popular former U.S. senator who sought the Democratic presidential nomination this year.

On October 13, Paul Frymer, author of Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America, delivers a lecture on race and electoral politics, discussing whiteness as it relates to political participation and inclusion.

On Election Day, November 2, the Otelia Cromwell Day committee plans to sponsor election-related events as results are assessed.

Other events this fall in connection with Otelia Cromwell Day include a campus visit by writer Pearl Cleage; a recital by Kevin Maynor, a nationally renowned operatic bass vocalist; and "Politics and Protest," at the Museum of Art, an exhibition of some 30 photographs, prints and drawings from different countries and time periods.

Otelia Cromwell Day is named for the first known African American to graduate from Smith. Cromwell, who graduated in 1900, eventually became a professor and chair of the English language and literature department at Miner Teachers College in Washington, D.C.

A day was established in Cromwell's honor to provide the college community with an opportunity for further education and reflection about issues of diversity and racism.

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