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Elms College to Host Fifth Annual Black Experience Summit

CHICOPEE — In celebration of Black History Month, Elms College will hold its fifth annual Black Experience Summit on Thursday, Feb. 17 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. The event is hosted by the Elms College President’s Office and Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Due to COVID-19 protocols, this event will be held virtually via Zoom.

“The theme to this year’s Black Experience Summit is ‘Stories of Our Becoming: the Shoulders on Which We Stand,’” said Jennifer Shoaff, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “Throughout the summit, we will explore the histories and stories that inform today’s black experience and the inextricable link of those histories and stories to black-liberation and social-justice movements.”

Elms College President Harry Dumay added that the summit “is an annual event bringing together students and scholars from across Western Massachusetts and beyond to educate and inspire a holistic dialogue about the black experience within the context of Elms College’s mission.”

The event will feature two keynote speeches. The opening keynote address, “Freefalling and Finding Self: Meditations on Blackness and Rasanblaj,” will be given by Gina Athena Ulysse, a Haitian-American feminist and artist-anthropologist.

The closing keynote address, “Witness and Withnessing: the Archive of Black Freedom Struggles,” will be given by Treva Lindsey, a black feminist historian and co-founder of the Black Feminist Night School at Zora’s House in Columbus, Ohio.

Two interactive panels are also part of this year’s summit. “The Art of Storytelling” will examine why the stories about black history are so central to black experiences. The second panel, “Lifting as We Climb,” involves a discussion on the career paths of three presidents from colleges and universities in New England.

The free event is open to the public. For a full schedule, information about the speakers and panelists, and to register, visit www.elms.edu/events/bes. A Zoom link will be sent to all attendees prior to the summit.

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