Women of Color Conference set for April 4.

Keynote speakers for the Women of Color Conference Karyn Parsons (left) and Ilyasah Shabazz
By Emily Harrison Weir
 
The 2015 Women of Color Trailblazers Leadership Conference, to be held at Mount Holyoke College on April 4, aims to empower women of color; to encourage dialogue about race, ethnicity, and gender; and to celebrate the accomplishments of women of color.
 
Two keynote speeches will bookend the event, which runs from 9 am to 5 pm in the Art Building's Gamble Auditorium. Actress and television producer and writer Karyn Parsons will give the opening address. She is best known for her starring role in the 1990s TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She has also appeared in several films, and is currently developing animated films about little-known African American achievements.
 
Ilyasah Shabazz, a community organizer, motivational speaker, and author, will deliver the closing address. Shabazz has focused much of her community work on encouraging at-risk youth to pursue higher education. She also has written books for children and adults that draw on her heritage as the daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, for whom the College's Shabazz Cultural Center is named. Ilyasah Shabazz has also been active in the television industry for a dozen years.
 
The conference also will include panel discussions, networking opportunities, and workshops such as "Learning and Leadership through Oral History," "Taking Action to Make Your Dreams a Reality," "Where Are You with You?—The Importance of the Journey," and "How Immigrations Became Illegal."
 
A social mixer from 7 to 10 pm will conclude the day's events.
 
The entire Five College community is welcome to attend the conference, which costs $10. Register online or email for more information.
 
Related events for Women of Color Celebration Week
• An intergroup dialogue workshop from noon to 3 pm on March 29 will explore how race and ethnicity impact participants' daily lives. 
 
• The Blanchard Student Art Gallery will host an exhibition about women of color at Mount Holyoke from 1883 to the present. It will be on display March 30–April 5.
 
• On March 31 and April 1, the MHC community is invited to help create an image of Hortense Parker, the College's first known student of color. It will comprise hundreds of ceramic tiles. A table upstairs in Blanchard Campus Center will provide tiles and paint, and the completed artwork will be displayed on campus as a permanent tribute to Parker's pioneering spirit.
 
• The sixth annual Hortense Parker Celebration starts at 4:30 pm on April 2.
 
• “And I Wish You Faith: An Evening with Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X,” will be presented at 5:30 pm on April 3 at the Betty Shabazz Cultural Center. Jamila Shabazz Brathwaite will speak on “Black Liberation on My Mind: Reimagining Ourselves through the Life of Dr. Betty Shabazz." Zayid Muhammad's presentation is titled “Between Malcolm and the World: The Women Who Influenced El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz."