April 1 – May 22


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Celebrating Black Women

“Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human differences between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals.”
Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

Poet and essayist Audre Lorde once lamented that “we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals.” She touches on one of the great tragedies of contemporary society—that despite even the deepest efforts to respect and honor each other as ourselves, we simply have no (or few) patterns upon which to model our behavior. By “Celebrating Black Women,” we seek to construct a pattern – not by ignoring or subordinating the differences, but by embracing and honoring them. The exhibit, sponsored by S.A.G.E. (Students Advocating Gender Equality), is the product of the efforts of eight white women of mixed ancestry. It is part of a larger effort we make to understand and engage the work of people who transform our world.

We sketch our pattern for understanding in several ways. First, the timeline assists us in thinking about the history of racial and gender oppression in the United States. We note the tremendous achievements of some remarkable women who overcame white supremacy, often at considerable costs. We also profile three phenomenal black women who are currently, or were, faculty members at WOU. Second, in our art gallery, we profile and celebrate the artistic achievements of four African American artists who use visual media to create patterns of understanding of their own. Finally, we offer a children’s gallery that we hope will encourage children and teachers alike to seek an understanding of difference by relating to all kinds of people, with all kinds of differences, as equals.

All of the black women we celebrate in this necessarily partial and incomplete exhibit are unique individuals whose lives come together at the intersections of racism and sexism and, somehow, possibility. We hope you will take this opportunity to explore, learn about, or reflect upon the ways these women’s lives and work can, and have, shaped our own.



Dr. Emily Plec, Faculty Advisor, Department of Speech Communication

Brandy Goldberg, Student Curator
Jessie Hancock, Student Curator
Carly Justino, Student Curator
Christi Nelson, Student Curator
Julia Parks, Student Curator
Marla Spencer, Student Curator

galleryArtists Represented:

Augusta Asberry c.1932

Clementine Hunter 1886-1988

Lois Mailou Jones 1905-1998

Faith Ringgold 1930





Jarena Lee

“For as unseemly as it may appear now-a-days for a woman to preach, it should be remembered that nothing is impossible with God.”

Sojourner Truth

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough
to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

Rebecca Lee Crumpler

“I early conceived a liking for, and sought every opportunity to relieve the sufferings of others”

Harriet Tubman

“When I found I crossed the Mason-Dixon line, I looked at my hands to see if I were the same person.”

Hallie Q. Brown

“It is our anxious desire to preserve for future reference an account of these women, their life and character and what they accomplished under the most trying and adverse circumstances . . .”

Madame C.J. Walker

“I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to
the cook-kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations… I have built my own factory on my own ground.”

Zora Neale Hurston

“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”

Rosa Parks

“Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it”

Pearl Bailey

“There is a way to look at the past. Don’t hide from it. It will not catch you— if you don’t repeat it.”

Katherine G. Johnson

“ The 1950’s. It was a time when computers wore skirts.”

Maya Angelou

“The honorary duty of a human being is to love.”

Toni Morrison

“I really think the range of emotions and perceptions I have had access to as a black person and as a female person are greater than those of people who are neither… So it seems to me that my world did not shrink because I was a black female writer. It just got bigger.”

Jane Bolin

“I report my memories honestly because this racism too is a part of
Wellesley’s history.”

Angela Davis

“To understand how any society functions you must understand the relationship between the men and the women.”

Oprah Winfrey

“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.”

LOCATION: 3rd floor gallery
Curators:  Dr. Emily Plec and Communication Students