WILLIAMSTOWN -- Two days of activities will lead up to the rededication of the Multicultural Center at Williams College on Saturday evening.
The center, which consists of Jenness, Hardy and Rice houses, and the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, will be renamed the Davis Center in honor of Williams alumni W. Allison Davis, and his brother, John.
Both men were black scholars and activists whose works contributed to the transformation of the social and educational policies involving minorities during the mid-20th century.
The dedication and ribbon-cutting of the new center will take place at 5 p.m., on Saturday, on Morley Drive Circle. Following the ceremony, Johnnetta B. Cole, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, will give the keynote address at 8 p.m. at the MainStage in the ‘62 Center for Theatre and Dance.
A full list of events, which are free and open to the public, is available at daviscenter. williams.edu. Events include a performance by the musical group, Ozomatli, at 10 p.m. on Friday in the Lasell Gym nasium.
Liliana Rodriguez, director of the Multicultural Center, said Wednesday that cultural centers at institutions all over the country are reimagining themselves from being just recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups.
"There used to be the naive belief that if you provided the diversity, social relationships would do the
Over six years ago, an advisory group, comprising students, faculty and staff, began creating a new vision for the Multicultural Center, she said.
"Our hope was to reinvigorate a center that was unknown to too many, to spark conversations that were too often avoided, and to renew the community's commitment to inclusion and equity," she said.
Cultural centers nationwide are for the most part associated with student affairs offices, which tend to work with students outside the classroom, Rodriguez said. One way the Multicultural Center at Williams is moving ahead is to join the classroom with academic programming aimed at developing critical thinking and awareness around the social identity development of all groups, she said.
"None of us choose what we're born into. We all carry stereotypes and prejudices," she said.
Besides academic programming, the center also facilitates leadership programming, she said.
The rededication of the Multicultural Center, which was established in 1989, is being seen as a opportunity to reintroduce the center to the Williams College community, and reaffirm its mission and commitment, she said.
"There is still a lot of work to be done. That is what this weekend is about, reaffirming our commitment to social justice," she said.
To reach Meghan Foley, email