Claiming Williams Day Speakers and Events Explore Racial Injustice to Restoration

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, executive assistant; tele: 413-597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., February 8, 2021—Williams College will hold its annual Claiming Williams Day on Thursday, Feb. 18, with virtual events throughout the day that encourage critical thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusion. For the past 12 years, Claiming Williams Day has raised awareness of historical and contemporary efforts to make Williams more accountable to its various communities, especially underrepresented and underserved groups. Claiming Williams aims to invite community building through the process of critique and collaboration, providing a platform for authentic expressions of experiences at Williams and reflecting on the college’s responsibility to all its members.

Ericka HartWhile most of the events are open only to the Williams College community, several events this year—all of which will be hosted online—are open to the public, including the event’s two keynote speakers. Ericka Hart, a black queer femme activist, writer, speaker and award-winning sexuality educator, will be the morning keynote speaker. Their talk, which will explore the event’s central theme “From Racial Injustice to Restoration,” will be held on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. A Q&A period will follow.

A popular speaker at colleges and universities across the country, Hart’s voice is rooted in leading edge thought around human sexual expression as inextricable to overall human health and its intersections with race, gender, chronic illness and disability. Both radical and relatable, she continues to push well beyond the threshold of sex positivity. She has taught sexuality education for elementary aged youth to adults across New York City for more than a decade, and their work has been featured in publications such as Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Essence, and The Washington Post, among others. They are currently an adjunct faculty member at Widener University’s Center for Human Sexuality.

Michelle AlexanderMichelle Alexander, a legal scholar, social justice advocate, best-selling author, and columnist at The New York Times, will be the evening keynote speaker. Her talk will be held on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

In her talks, Alexander breaks the silence about racial injustice in the modern legal system to reveal how mass incarceration has come to replace segregation. Bringing audiences profoundly necessary and meaningful insights on the U.S. justice system, as well as eye-opening conversation on how we can end racial caste in America, she leaves them with a new perspective on the challenges facing the civil rights community and a rousing call-to-action for a multi-racial, multi-ethnic human rights movement for justice in America. Author of the acclaimed best-seller, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Alexander is also visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary. An audience Q&A will follow her talk.

For complete Claiming Williams public events information, including Zoom links, visit


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications 413-597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at