The 1960s were a time of turbulent change and unrest in the United States; however, they were also a time of action, when the Civil Rights Movement had stirred many – including students – across the nation to join forces to fight oppression and inequality.
Former members of the Civil Rights organization Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a group born of these tumultuous times, will join the Colleges for a public talk titled, “Hands on the Freedom Plow,” as part of a celebration of the Women’s Studies Department’s 40th Anniversary.
The talk is also a part of the biennial Seneca Fall Dialogues, which will continue the following day, Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Clarence Hotel in Seneca Fall, N.Y. The dialogues are a collaborative effort to reinvigorate Seneca Falls as a site of feminist activism and intellectual exchange, and seek to continue the conversation started in 1848 by suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. This year, the conference features scholars from throughout the region, including keynote speaker Nancy Hewitt, of Rutgers University, who will speak on “Race, Religion and Rights: Re-casting the U.S. Women’s Suffrage Movement.” For more information, visit http://senecafallsdialogues.com/.
Featuring Judy Richardson, Betty Garman Robinson and Dorothy M. Zellner, the former women of SNCC will discuss their struggles, experiences and victories through their own personal accounts on Friday, Oct. 19, at 4:30 p.m. in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center.
Started by a group of students at Shaw University in the early 1960s, the SNCC grew from a movement of sit-in protests, to direct-action protests against segregation – particularly in many Southern communities.
“This is an event not just for the Colleges, but for the entire community,” says Professor of Women’s Studies Betty Bayer. “This is really the first time the Upstate New York Consortium of Women’s and Gender Studies are using our home institutions for an event of such a high level of programming. The talk will create a truly meaningful dialogue.”
The talk is the result of an extensive collaborative effort by the Upstate New York Consortium of Women’s and Gender Studies, which includes many regional organizations and institutions. In addition to the support of Hobart and William Smith, the lecture is sponsored by many departments at the University of Rochester, the College at Brockport: State University of New York, Monroe Community College, The Greater Rochester American Association of University Women, and St. John Fisher College.
Bayer is excited to be a part of the collaboration, and looks to the talk as an opportunity to showcase and highlight the women of Civil Rights. “Women were a major part of this movement, it helped them to understand their own experiences – and grow,” explains Bayer. “These women have taken the time and the courage to write that history.”
The women will also deliver their talk – thanks to the extensive joint efforts of the supporting institutions – at the Interfaith Chapel at the University of Rochester on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.