Smith sets aside time during the academic year to celebrate diversity, explore cultural heritage and experiences, and challenge the community to think critically about cultural pluralism.
Otelia Cromwell Day Symposia
Smith College annually honors the pioneering courage of its first African American graduate, Otelia Cromwell, class of 1900. The entire college gathers for workshops, lectures, films and performances that focus on the topics of racism, diversity and community.
Provocative campus visitors initiate lively conversations focusing on the cerebral, as well as the spiritual, contributing to the diversity of life at Smith.
Here is a sampling of those who have enlivened campus conversations:
- Laverne Cox, actress, television producer and LGBT advocate
- Henry Louis Gates, Jr., filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist and cultural critic
- Viola Davis, Oscar-nominated, Emmy and Tony Award–winning actor
- Cornel West, civil rights activist, scholar and author
- Janet Mock, writer, cultural commentator and transgender rights activist
- Imani Perry, author of More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States
- Claudia Rankine, poet
- Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders
- Jennifer “JLove” Calderon, author, educator and activist
- Kevin Powell, social activist, writer, author, hip hop historian, public speaker and entrepreneur
- Elaine Brown, activist and presidential candidate
- Urvashi Vaid, director of the Engaging Tradition Project, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School
- Nikki Giovanni, world-renowned poet and activist
- Tim Wise, prominent writer and activist on issues of privilege
Heritage Month Celebrations
Latina Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the influence la raza has had on American history and culture. Nosotras, the Smith Latina student organization, hosts commemorative celebrations throughout the month.
Asian Pacific American Awareness Month
The Asian Students Association (ASA) and the Korean Students Association (KSA) co-sponsor a range of events highlighted by an Asian Teahouse and fall conference.
Native American/American Indian Heritage Month
November is a time to acknowledge the contributions of the first Americans. Indigenous Smith Students and Allies (ISSA) co-sponsor several events highlighted by an Anti-Columbus Day Teach-In and rally.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service
Smith College encourages participation in the national movement to restore the intended meaning of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day—making it a day on, not a day off. In addition, commemorative programming is held after students return to campus for spring semester.
Black Heritage Month
A week-long remembrance of African Americans' history and accomplishments has evolved into a vibrant, month-long celebration. Smith College observes Black Heritage Month throughout February in conjunction with the Black Arts Festival, which is co-sponsored by the Smith Black Students' Alliance.
A Community Wider Than Smith
One of Smith’s greatest assets is its access to four nearby colleges. The Five College consortium increases your choices for scholarly and social activities. Four liberal arts colleges—Smith, Amherst, Hampshire and Mount Holyoke—along with the University of Massachusetts lie within a 12-mile radius. The 29,300 students attending the schools in the Five College area further expand opportunities for friendship and cultural diversity. Some 4,000 of these men and women are students of color, and each campus sponsors social and cultural events focusing on ethnic and racial topics and experiences. You can take courses at any campus, and through the Five Colleges you can also study ethnomusicology, international relations and much more, adding to the curriculum offered at Smith.
Smith’s cultural organizations regularly plan events with their counterparts at the nearby colleges. Fare-free buses connect you to sporting events, theater performances, concerts, film festivals and hundreds of other happenings.
Thriving in the Valley
Thriving in the Valley is a guide for Smith students, staff, and faculty of color to fully experience the Five College community in the Pioneer Valley.