Black Alumnae of Smith College (BASC) held a successful meet-up recently at Marcus Samuelsson’s American Table Café and Bar in Lincoln Center. They discussed a wide range of topics: Black women’s history at Smith College, mentoring, recruitment, campus visits, networking, fundraising, a documentary, oral history projects, theater arts outings and travel ideas. It was the first time in over five years that Black Smithies had gathered in NYC sisterhood. The timing could not have been better being held the weekend before the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. Smith College recently distinguished itself in the news when it was named among five top US colleges with the best African American graduation rate. The other best-kept secret is that some people believe that Smith College women run New York!
The Lincoln Center’s air was full of positive energy and enthusiasm as alums were thrilled to be in each other’s company. Everyone eagerly participated in activities such as a “get-to-know-you” game that assured everyone would personally connect with each other.
“I was not particularly surprised by anything, more so reminded of the magic of Smithies—our intellect, warmth, humor, and a sense of possibility and hope that we apply to all realms of our lives,” said Paula Mukwaya ‘08, the event host.
“I was motivated to host the fellowship after attending the first BASC Listening Circle in May during the recent 2013 Reunion Weekend. The results of a recent BASC survey revealed that members had a strong desire to connect with each other socially and for opportunities to network professionally. The needs of the BASC community, paired with my genuine love for bringing people together, steered me to action,” Paula added.
Planning the BASC fellowship was certainly a team effort. Paula worked closely with BASC’s new leadership—Joy Milan ’88, Acting President, and Gloria Gillison ’94, Acting Vice President (who collaborated with the Office of Alumnae Relations at Smith College) Ms. Gillison and Ms. Milan provided thoughtful feedback and guidance in the development of the format and activities for the fellowship. Earlier in the summer, Knia Tanner ’11 successfully hosted a meet-up for Washington, D.C. area BASC members. So, Paula said that she had a great example to follow for the New York event.
“It was a joy and honor to host the New York City fellowship, as it was an important first step as we work to reinvigorate BASC. I believe that we all left the gathering eager to keep the momentum going,” Paula said.
In the group photo, seated clockwise: Ashley Parker '09 (12 o'clock); Laura Simpson '03; Sophia Mutungi '09; Sabine Jean '11; Susan Robinson '74; Mylasha Furlonge '14; Sylvia “Cookie” Lewis '74; Paula Mukwaya '08; Candace Hewitt '01; Xiomara Martinez-White '05; Carla Shedd '00; Markeisha Grant '11; Joy Scantlebury '91; Linda Charles '74; Mary Ann Denton '76; Cynthia Linton Smith '56 (MSW).