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Shades of Ebony ‘Women’s Week’ becomes month of events

| Friday, March 18, 2022

Women’s History Month is seeing some changes on the Notre Dame campus this year.  A club on campus, Shades of Ebony, was founded in 2002 as an outlet for all women, especially women of color, to come together in a safe space. Each year, the club has put on a Women’s Week to commemorate powerful women. However, this year, the events of Women’s Week have evolved into Women’s Month. 

This month will be filled with a plethora of events. There are some essential events that occur annually, stretching from the Cifemme Talent show to volunteering in the South Bend community to a formal dinner between students and faculty with catered food. This year, Shades of Ebony will be taking a retreat to a local high school to give a lesson to the female students. 

“The overall theme of it is motivation and self confidence and just self love, themes along those lines,” Shades of Ebony president Zakiya George said. “After talking to a lot of the faculty of the high school, they mentioned that these were issues that the girls struggled with.”

Along with these yearly festivities, the club has been also putting on some new events. One of which is a panel of successful women of color speaking about their experiences. Another is ‘merch madness’ where people will be able to buy Shades of Ebony merchandise. There was also be a fireside chat with Nikole Hannah-Jones.

A photo of the Nikole Hannah-Jones Event at McKenna Hall. Cassidy Ferrell interviewing Nikole Hannah-Jones about her experiences at Notre Dame and beyond.Emma Duffy | The Observer
Shades of Ebony vice president Cassidy Ferrell interviewed Nikole Hannah-Jones about her experiences at Notre Dame and beyond earlier this month.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a well-known alumni of Notre Dame who has made her success as a staff writer for The New York Times and as the founder of “The 1619 Project.” This chat was organized by vice president of Shades of Ebony Cassidy Ferrell after running into Hannah-Jones at Martha’s Vineyard. 

George explained that the fire-side chat was intended to be an informal discussion to highlight her journey.

“The fireside chat with her and Shades [of Ebony] is more focused on her experiences as a Black woman at Notre Dame and beyond,” George said. “How she feels like Notre Dame has sculpted her, prepared her or maybe even inhibited her.”

Each of these events are unique in their own ways, but despite their differences, each event is put on in celebration of Women’s History Month, George explained. 

“Each event has its own individual theme and kind of mission or goal. But collectively they all have a central goal, which is pretty closely aligned to our mission of just inspiring, empowering, unifying women on campus or people on campus, but in the name of women[‘s] empowerment overall,” George said.  

Shades of Ebony has noticed that these events normally seem to draw in a singular type of demographic. George said it is a goal of theirs to address and correct this problem, hoping to draw in a larger population of students than they have normally seen. 

“We want as many people exposed as possible. It’s great to get a whole lot of women exposed but we were already aware of these disparities,” George said. “Don’t shy away from attending or being involved because you don’t feel like you fit that target audience”.  

These events are being put on in order to benefit the Notre Dame community and help educate people about things they may not know. For this to work, Shades of Ebony is calling on the students to attend. The club feels as though there are practical experiences for students to gain by showing up, according to George.

“Students will gain from getting involved and I think the main thing students have to gain from attending events in the name of celebration of women is exposure to a lot of powerful women.”

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