Smith College rookie speaker urges graduates to ‘cast out fear and replace it with hope’

NORTHAMPTON — Beverly Daniel Tatum, keynote speaker at Smith College on Sunday morning, said “counter-revolution” and urged graduates “to drive out fear and replace it with hope.”

Tatum, who will become acting president of Mount Holyoke College on July 1, spoke about “stories of resistance” – linked to women opposing fascism and Nazi ideology during World War II in France and Italy.

She mentions Ida Bell Wells, who was born a slave in Mississippi and lived from 1862 to 1931.

Tatum alluded to “his anti-lynching campaign here in the United States,” saying, “I find courage in learning their stories. »

Posthumously, Wells received a Pulitizer Prize in 2020 – “For outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans in the age of lynching.”

She was among the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“Let’s be clear,” Tatum told Smith College seniors, “you all have this leadership ability. Now is the time to claim it. Smith has prepared you for this moment.

“We have been through two long years of a global pandemic, which is not over yet; we see the escalation of global conflicts as wars rage; we recognize the backlash against racial progress and the rise of white nationalist movements at home and abroad; we are feeling the impact of climate change; and today we face growing threats to democracy and the erosion of women’s rights. In short, the world as we have known it seems to be falling apart,” she said.

Smith President Kathleen McCartney and Board Chair Alison Overseth awarded honorary degrees to Japanese-born violin virtuoso Midori; domestic violence survivor advocate Marianne Winters; disability rights activist Judith E. Heumann; and author and journalist Isabel Wilkerson.

“Every note ‘Midori plays’ comes out like love,” McCartney said.

“COVID-19 has changed everything…sitting behind a screen for hours,” said Matilda Rose Cantwell Guiso Gallisay, senior class president.

Entering her final year at Smith was a relief — “finally, after a year and a half of self-isolation … we started with in-person classes,” she said.

“To the class of 2022, thank you for growing and changing alongside me, and congratulations,” said Guiso Gallisay.

Sri Rajan, who grew up in India and lives in San Francisco, came to see his daughter graduate.

She had many options on where to go to college, he said, adding, “a small liberal arts school was ‘the goal,’ and Smith felt like the best choice.”

Wife and husband Una Grewal, Smith Class of 1991 and David Backer, Amherst College Class of 1990 saw their daughter Annika Kaur Backer graduate.

“I love college,” Grewal said. “I came here from Calcutta in 1987 (to attend Smith).”

The couple married in a ceremony on June 28, 1994 on campus.

Smith College “just had everything it wanted: it’s small; it’s the liberal arts,” said Ellen Serencsics, of Poughkeepsie, New York, referring to her daughter Katie’s choice of school and her learning experiences over the past four years.

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