Otelia Cromwell Day Adopts New Theme: Social Justice, Activism and New Media
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 23:11
On Nov. 8, 2012, Smith College will once again celebrate Otelia Cromwell Day in honor of Otelia Cromwell, Smith’s first African-American graduate. Assistant Director of Media Relations Eric Weld and Director of Institutional Diversity Pamela Nolan Young organized this year’s Otelia Cromwell Day to focus on social justice along with diversity.
“The goal of Otelia Cromwell Day is to enlighten participants about the advantages and benefits of difference and diversity in society, and at Smith, by honoring the legacy of one of the college’s groundbreakers, a woman who broke through monumental racial barriers and paved the way for countless women to succeed in the 111 years since she graduated from Smith,” said Weld and Young in an e-mail interview.
According to Weld and Young, this year’s theme, “Social Justice, Activism and New Media,” will continue the larger, ongoing discussions about diversity, exclusion and inequality, and will focus on issues of social justice as it pertains to pop culture, social media and inclusion. Each Otelia Cromwell day is unique because of its focus on different human interactions, sociology and gratitude for diversity. “Let’s not wait for a time of crisis to talk, discuss or debate. Otelia Cromwell day presents such an opportunity, a chance to have deep conversations about race, racism and social justice,” said Weld and Young.
In 1989, the first Otelia Cromwell Day was held in order to give the Smith community a chance to learn and reflect on issues of diversity and racism. The event this year will continue in this vein. This year’s keynote lecture by Latoya Peterson, editor of the award-winning blog Racialicious.com, is titled “Against Pearl Clutching: Rebels, Renegades and Critical Resistance.” Peterson’s lecture will discuss social rebellion and historical change through pop culture. “The keynote talk is an important opportunity to hear a dynamic speaker reflect on today’s media culture and how it impacts social justice,” said Weld and Young.
The Otelia Cromwell Day Committee, headed by Young, was created in order to keep the annual event relevant and related to current events. The committee puts the event together by exploring current events and trying to represent issues that are important to promoting and bettering social interaction and respect for diversity.
While times have changed since Cromwell’s graduation, many things have remained the same. “Racism, in many forms covert and in the open, still exists across the United States,” said Weld and Young.
“Smithies are compassionate and have intellectual curiosity. Conversations about race, racism or other social justice issues must be held with both head and heart,” said Weld and Young. Otelia Cromwell Day is just one opportunity for Smith students, faculty, staff, alumnae and others to join into deep conversations about diversity and difference.