President of Spelman College to discuss racial identity development and college communities


Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College and author of the book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, visits Bates to discuss her work in racial identity development and its impact on campus communities at noon Friday, Sept. 16, at the Benjamin Mays Center, 95 Russell St.

A light lunch will be provided. The event is sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Education, beginning a fall series of public events that include visits by theatrical director and teacher Ozzie Jones ’92; novelist Danzy Senna, author of Caucasia and Symptomatic; and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Andrea Elliott.

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Tatum, a scholar and expert in race relations and education, has been president of Spelman College since 2002. Also a best-selling author, her publications include Can We Talk About Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation (Beacon Press, 2007), Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (Basic Books, 1997) and Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community (Greenwood Press, 1987).

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? explores racial-identity development, the occurrence of “self-segregation” and a broad social reluctance to discuss race. Blending an analytical approach with personal anecdotes, the text prompts innovative discourse about race. It was the recipient of the National Association of Multicultural Education’s 1998 Multicultural Book of the Year.

Tatum’s most recent book, Can We Talk About Race? asks questions about the nation’s ability to discuss race and the implications in terms of education, race relations and democracy. Topics included continued segregation in public schools, the achievement gap, the difficulty of fostering and sustaining interracial relationships, and long-term impacts on democracy.

As president of Spelman, Tatum set high expectations for the institution to become the leading liberal arts college that it is today. Her administrative accomplishments include an application increase of more than 40 percent during her tenure, the creation of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement and the establishment of an annual Women of Color Leadership Conference. Campus improvements include award-winning renovations and environmental sustainability initiatives.

She is a recipient of the Brock International Prize in Education for innovative leadership in the field. Tatum received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wesleyan University and a master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. She has served as a faculty member at University of California, Santa Barbara; Westfield State College; and Mount Holyoke College.

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