Singing the praises of multicultural Mills

For 25 years, the Alumnae of Color Committee has built sisterhood and solidarity among
Mills graduates, students, and faculty.

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Raven Rice sings

The Alumnae of Color Committee marks 25 years

By Dawn Cunningham ’85

Gospel hymns rang out in the Reinhardt Alumnae House garden on September 25, the last day of Reunion. Powered by the voice of Raven Rice ’18, they set a tone of celebration and praise for the 25th anniversary brunch of the Alumnae of Color Committee, attended by 50 alumnae and friends.

Mills is known today for the exceptional diversity of its majority-minority student body. This distinction is due in no small part to the committee, established by the Alumnae Association of Mills College in 1991 to encourage the participation of alumnae, students, and faculty of color in the community.

“For our anniversary,” says committee member Lynette Castille-Hall ’75, “we wanted to celebrate recent milestones and key supporters: the tenure of past President Alecia DeCoudreaux and the inauguration of President Beth Hillman, both of whom participated in the anniversary program; the retirement of a beloved professor; the life of a pioneering alumna; and the endowment of our scholarship fund.”

Daisy Gonzalez ’07 joined committee members Estrellita Hudson Redus ’65, MA ’75, and Micheline Beam ’72 in honoring her former professor, Bruce Williams, who taught sociology from 1997 to 2016 and directed the Summer Academic Workshop, which has helped hundreds of students of color succeed at Mills. “You have captained a tall ship of social justice and multiculturalism and changed Mills College,” Redus told Williams.

Castille-Hall eulogized Mary Lois Hudson Sweatt ’60, MA ’62 (d. June 2016), one of the College’s first African American students to major in dance and a life-long advocate for the arts and people of color at Mills. Sister of Redus and Camellia Hudson Franklin ’73, Sweatt embodied the sense of sisterhood, solidarity, and support that has been a hallmark of the Alumnae of Color Committee since its inception.

Committee chair Toni McElroy ’83, MA ’05, EdD ’13, and Castille-Hall announced that the committee had succeeded in endowing its scholarship fund. Since the fund was seeded in 2011, nearly 150 donors have contributed a total of more than $82,000, and two students have received the scholarship: Sharon Robinson ’14 and Bryana Jones ’17. “Our next goal is to raise the endowment to $100,000 so we can provide even greater support to students of color,” says McElroy. “Please visit and make a gift to the Alumnae of Color Endowed Scholarship in Honor of President Alecia A. DeCoudreaux.”

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