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Beverly Tatum spoke on race at SMC

Brianne Carroll | Friday, October 1, 2010

Saint Mary’s students gathered in O’Laughlin auditorium Thursday to hear Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” deliver her keynote speech.

Tatum, president of Spellman College, a traditionally black all-women’s college in Atlanta, specializes in racial education and has devoted her life to empowering women to live in intercultural solidarity with one another. The Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership committee has been preparing for Tatum’s first visit to Saint Mary’s College since February.

Mana Derakhshani, associate director of the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership and a professor at Saint Mary’s College, said she was excited for Tatum’s visit to the College.

“I think it’s important for our students as current and future leaders to see a role model,” Derakhshani said. “Having this fantastic role model helps us understand the complexities of cultural identities.”

Derakhshani said there has been excitement on campus from those who are familiar with Tatum’s work.

“We chose her because she exemplifies in many ways the larger themes of the conference,” Derakhshani said. “The conference is interdisciplinary, and explores the intersection of international, intercultural, and multicultural education as well as women’s studies and leadership development.”

College President Dr. Carol Ann Mooney introduced Tatum before she delivered her speech. In her 45-minute speech, Tatum touched on the impact of race and racial development in the United States. Tatum discussed topics of identity affirmation, community building, and leadership cultivation among members of the global community. She emphasized the responsibility current and future women leaders have to act and serve as catalysts of interracial acceptance and respect.

Saint Mary’s junior Alexandra Zellner said she was glad Tatum was able to visit the College.

“I was looking forward to gaining a perspective and knowledge on how I can better my role as a woman of intercultural leadership,” Zellner said. “I really enjoyed her positive outlook and explanation of why some of society’s chaos and fear has erupted and how, as educated women, we all have the power and moral obligation to become builders to work in paving the road that will make for a better and more inclusive world.”

For years, Tatum’s efforts of interracial collaboration and respect has empowered women to act as heroes, or as Tatum describes them, “SHEroes,” in their communities. Tatum ended her speech with an inspirational quote, articulating the essential role of women leaders.

“This is our promise. We will not be the ones to break the chain,” Tatum said.