Tuesday, November 7th, 2017...2:07 amolearyc

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I felt that the discussion prior to learning about Esther Popel Shaw coincided perfectly with the special collections presentation. As much as it was disappointing to be reminded that as a college community, we are still facing racial prejudice and discrimination, it was also encouraging to see how Shaw was an activist not only in the Dickinson community, but in the Harlem Renaissance movement at large. I think it is such a privilege to have primary documents from such an influential activist from the Harlem Renaissance. It was so inspiring to see how she faced  heavy adversity such as not being able to live on campus but still managed to thrive and succeed. It was disturbing to see how such racial injustice is still manifested in our college life today. I was surprised that in her alumni survey, that Esther Popel Shaw expressed that Dickinson was nothing but a positive experience. She even go as far to say that there was nothing that she would change about her 4 years of college. She did not mention being marginalized and talked positively of close relationships with professors. Even after being mistreated she apologizes for not being an active alumni due to an illness.


  • I think it’s really interesting how you point out the tension in her answers to the survey with the overwhelming narrative (to which she contributed) of black experience during this time, both on campuses and in general. Do you take her answers as genuine, or do you see them as a sort of banal, disengaged “tell-them-what-they-wanna-hear” sort of thing? Or something else? This is one of those moments in reading history where you really feel the overwhelming opacity of time as a barrier between people.

  •   Professor Seiler
    November 14th, 2017 at 1:16 am

    Caroline (and Noah!)–in response to your timely post, Caroline, I would just clarify that it’s not that EPS had nothing but good things to say about Dickinson full-stop. She loved her *academic* life and experience here.

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