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Fall colloquium calls for respect

Fall colloquium, “Aretha: Ready from Within – Musings on Aretha Franklin, ‘Respect’ and the Empowerment of Women,” will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23 in the Concert Hall.

Evelyn White, a visiting scholar in women’s studies, will be delivering the lecture, which is based on a piece she did for National Public Radio this summer, about Wilson Pickett’s song, “Respect,” and the artist who made it famous, Franklin.

White will talk about the sociopolitical context of “Respect,” and “why the song is so important and so lasting,” according to Liza Kuney, assistant dean of students. White will address the impact the song made at the time it came out and the impact it continues to have on listeners today.

White’s presentation will consist of a replaying of the original radio piece and White’s own discussion and “musings.”

After hearing White on the radio, Kuney asked her to lead fall colloquium, as the theme of White’s study fit into the Office of Student Life’s overall annual theme of “respect.” The book sent to the freshwoman class over the summer, by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, was entitled Respect, and the theme of Lawrence-Lightfoot’s convocation address was meant to be about respect as well, according to Kuney.

Respect is “a community issue,” according to Kuney. “We thought we should launch it as a theme.”

In the weeks since the Sept. 11 attacks, respect “seems to be on people’s minds. It seems to be front and center this year,” said Kuney. “It’s been a good focal point for us as a community.”

White is currently working on the biography of Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple. White is also the author of Chain Chain Change: For Black Women in Abusive Relationships, and The Black Women’s Health Book: Speaking for Ourselves.

White graduated from Wellesley College in 1976, got her Master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism in 1985, and earned a Master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University in 1991.

She joined the staff of the San Francisco Chronicle in 1986 after interning at the Wall Street Journal. Her writing has appeared in Essence, POZ, Smithsonian magazine, The Seattle Times, The San Francisco Review of Books, and Sojourner.

Colloquium happens twice a year, both in the fall and in the spring. It provides an opportunity for everyone on campus to come together for a shared cultural or academic experience.

“The traditional definition of colloquium is an academic address. At Mills it is a community gathering,” said Kuney.