Conn College Students Recreate 1969 Black Women’s Conference

Deep in Connecticut College’s archives earlier this semester, senior Shameesha Pryor stumbled on a historical treasure chest. Among records of campus activism over the years, she found a program from a conference that the college’s black students had organized in 1969, a celebration of black women that Pryor said she immediately saw a need for in 2017. The 1969 event, held more than a decade before the college established its Africana Studies major, featured spoken word performances, dances, and lectures by prominent black speakers and artists of the time.“I was like, ‘We have to do this again,’” Pryor said, reported on

Though nearly 50 years separate the two events, Pryor said the conference she organized on Sunday with several other students and the college’s Africana Studies staff was an effort to acknowledge the isolation that black students still face on Conn’s campus, which still has a primarily white student body.

“I really felt the need to honor and celebrate the black women who are on campus today,” she said.

Members of the intersectional panel Dr. Bryanna White, left, a multicultural counseling specialist, economics professor Terry-Ann Craigie, second from left, assistant professor of history Henryetta Ballah, second from right, and Yazmin Watkins, right, a spoken word poet and actress, during their intersectional panel discussion at the Black Women’s Conference at Connecticut College in New London, Sunday, April 2, 2017. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

This event was full of black women supporting one another and discussing their campus and how the lack of diversity affects each of them. The afternoon events included panels on spirituality and the concept of self-love, and one event advertised for “celebrating your curly, coily, and kinky crowne.”

Quote of the evening “I don’t think there’s a black woman on the planet who has never felt invisible,” Craigie said.



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