The fifth annual Hortense Parker Celebration, named in honor of the first known woman of color to graduate from Mount Holyoke, will take place Tuesday, March 25, at 7 pm in Gamble Auditorium. This year’s theme is “Hortense Parker’s Legacy: Past, Present, Future, and You.”
A member of the class of 1883, Parker is believed to be the first woman of color to attend Mount Holyoke—although the College was not aware she was African American until she arrived on campus. Despite the segregationist practices of the time, she was allowed to stay.
While honoring Parker and her legacy, the celebration will reflect on women of color and other individuals whose daily work around racism, oppression, or skin color inspires and educates others. As is tradition, the event will also spotlight the two winners of the essay contest organized by the planning committee. The contest offered students an opportunity to share experiences relating to this year’s theme.
This year’s guest speakers will be Ahyoung An ’09 and Camila Curtis-Contreras ’09, who—as graduating seniors—organized the inaugural Hortense Parker celebration. The College then formally adopted the event, which now is sponsored by the Dean of the College, the Dean of Students, and the Hortense Parker Celebration Student Planning Committee.
The 2014 celebration also will include an exhibition featuring alumnae who identify as women of color in the context of the historical events—both local and global—that occurred during their Mount Holyoke years. Attendees are invited to stay for a reception where they can more closely view the exhibition and enjoy hot hors d’oeuvres.
The event is free, and all members of the Mount Holyoke community are encouraged to join in the celebration.
—By Michelle Ducharme