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Valerie Smith at microphone

President Valerie Smith speaks at the Celebrating Black Excellence kick off event in September.

President Valerie Smith dedicated the 2019-20 academic year to Celebrating Black Excellence at Swarthmore: Honoring our Past, Imagining our Futures. The College hosted a series of events throughout the year to honor and celebrate the contributions of Black Swarthmoreans, interrogate a complicated history, and mark significant anniversaries for the Swarthmore Afro-American Student Society, the Black Cultural Center, the Black Studies program, and the Chester Children's Chorus. We wished to capture the long and rich history that begins well before the creation of these entities and to ensure that they will continue well into the future.

Celebrating Black Excellence at Swarthmore was conceived as a way of acknowledging the versatility, power, and contributions of Black faculty, staff, students, and alumni at Swarthmore. Throughout the year we highlighted the impact of these communities as reflected in activism, the arts, research, pedagogy, and local, national, and regional community engagement. We celebrated the diversity of Black lives and experiences, and explored the various and unpredictable ways in which excellence can reveal and express itself. We hope to continue to build connections between current students and alumni who identify as members of the Black community, and we hope to explore a complicated history with openness and candor so that the entire College can envision a future in which we fully realize our ideals of equity and inclusion.