Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC


Current Semester Schedule

Mon, September 11, 2023
Dinner Program
Nury Turkel

Nury Turkel, Commissioner at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and author of No Escape: The True Story of China's Genocide of the Uyghurs, shares his personal story and draws from his decades of experience as an attorney and human rights advocate to shed light on how the Chinese Communist Party has engaged in trans-national repression and technological surveillance, and employed forced labor in detention camps to perpetuate genocide in Xinjiang.

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Nury Turkel is an attorney, author, foreign policy expert, and advocate with nearly two decades of experience working in the intersection of law, business, government, and the human rights community. As a rights advocate, he has led efforts to raise the profile of the Uyghur cause, previously as the president of the Uyghur American Association and now as Chair of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, which he co-founded in 2003. In May 2020, he was appointed by Congress as a Commissioner at the U.S. Commissioner on International Religious Freedom, where he served as Chair. In 2020, he was in TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World List and in 2021, he was listed as one of Fortune's 50 Greatest Leaders. In June 2021, he received the inaugural Notre Dame Prize for Religious Liberty. Last September, he was awarded the “Global Soul Award” by Jewish World Watch. He is currently a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, where he works on US foreign policy and national security issues. He is also a Senior Advisor at Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue. In July 2023, Notre Dame Law School appointed him as a Senior Legal Fellow. He holds Juris Doctor and a Master of Arts in International Relations degrees from American University.

Turkel's Athenaeum visit is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights and the CMC Chapter of The Alexander Hamilton Society, a national organization that seeks to identify, educate, and launch young men and women into foreign policy and national security careers.

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Tue, September 12, 2023
Dinner Program
Yui Kurosawa '26, Cameron Quijada SC '25, and Audrey Strevey PO '25

Nearly 60 years after the War on Poverty was declared, the United States suffered from the highest poverty rate and third highest level of income inequality out of all 34 OECD nations in 2021. Can a guaranteed living wage help, or is it not worth the cost that may be passed down for generations?

Join members of the Claremont Colleges Debate Union for a moderated debate on the resolution: "The US should establish a guaranteed living wage." The audience is invited to interact through heckling, moderated discussion, and a final vote.


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Cameron Quijada SC '25 will moderate the debate between Audrey Strevey PO '25 and Yui Kurosawa '26. Kurosawa, Quijada, and Strevey are all Claremont Colleges Debate Union Fellows who lead a wide range of programming including public debates, civic events, and professional communication and leadership training. They are also hosts of the Debate Union podcast, Uncommon Ground, featuring innovative public policy analysis. Kurosawa is one of the top public performers for the Debate Union, participating in panel discussions, presidential debate commentary, and public debates. Quijada was the champion of the largest debate event in the Southwest in 2022. This year, Strevey won the national Social Justice Championship on oceans policy sponsored by the University of Miami. 

The Claremont Colleges Debate Union is a 5C program centered at Claremont McKenna College, and is among the largest and most successful college debating societies in the nation.

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Wed, September 13, 2023
Dinner Program
The ASCMC Social Life Working Group and Profs. Juliana Fillies and Norman Valencia

Join the Athenaeum and ASCMC's Social Life Working Group for the first installment of Around the World at the Ath, a new series designed to combine faculty and student expertise about international cultures and traditions with great cuisine, music, and fun programming. This month: Brazil! CMC's own Assistant Professor of Modern Languages Juliana Fillies and Associate Professor of Modern Languages Norman Valencia, expert on Latin American and Brazilian culture, art, and literature, will discuss some of their current research while you enjoy special Brazilian dishes from the Athenaeum kitchen and an eclectic mix of Brazilian music from bossa nova to pagode and more. Aproveitem!


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Juliana Fillies will be discussing Ezelino da Costa’s (counter-)photography. Born in a northeastern Brazilian province in 1889, da Costa is one of the few Black photographers of the beginning of the twentieth century we know of, and his pictures show how a Black family in post-abolitionist Brazil wanted to be seen. Professor Fillies was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Germany, she studied Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. She has a binational Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Cologne, Germany, and the State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Juliana has a second Ph.D. in Spanish Literature awarded by Arizona State University. 

She has published several articles on Latin American Literature, Afro-Latin American history, and politics of representation. She is especially interested in understanding how stereotypes were constructed through visual and literary texts. Her current research project explores the representation of Afro-Latin Americans in 19th and early 20th-century photography. In this project, she discusses how photography contributed to creating stereotypes about Black individuals and illustrates how Afro-Latin Americans appropriated the medium to create a counter-discourse.

Norman Valencia will be discussing "the case of Brasília." Brazil's capital, Brasília, is a city with a unique history in the Americas. Throughout his election campaign in 1955, President Juscelino Kubitschek promised to build, in the next four years, a new capital for the country. His objective was to create a new economic and political in Brazil's central high savannah, an important step in the unification of what was, at the time, a deeply fragmented country. For this, he contacted two important architects and urban planners: Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa. Both of them shared a unique idea: to make Brazil a more egalitarian society through architecture. Professor Valencia will explain how Brasília's architecture was meant to produce important social and political changes, both in the city and in the country, as well as some of the triumphs and some of the shortcomings of their project. 

Norman Valencia is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese. His work focuses on comparative approaches between Brazil and the rest of Latin America, with an emphasis on Colombia. His recent book (in collaboration with Claudia Montilla), El manglar de la memoria. Ensayos críticos sobre la obra de Tomás González, earned the award for Best Edited Volume of 2021 by the Colombian Studies Association.

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Thu, September 14, 2023
Dinner Program
Gabby Salazar

In this talk, conservation photographer Gabby Salazar will share how curiosity and a camera have taken her to many unexpected places - from the top of a volcano in Guatemala to the savannas of Zimbabwe. She will also discuss how collaborations with scientists, conservationists, and other artists have expanded the impact of her work. 

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Dr. Gabby Salazar is a conservation photographer and an environmental social scientist who has traveled the world documenting a wide range of subjects with her camera. In 2021, she was recognized by the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) as the Emerging Photographer of the Year and in 2004 she was named BBC Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

She holds a PhD from the University of Florida's School of Forest, Fisheries and Geomatics Sciences, where she studied visual framing and the influence of environmental images on people's attitudes and behaviors. She also holds an MSc in Conservation Science from Imperial College London and a B.A. in Science and Technology Studies from Brown University.  

As a National Geographic Explorer, a Past President of the North American Nature Photography Association, and an Associate Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, Gabby collaborates with scientists and environmental organizations to help them tell their stories. She is the co-author of the book No Boundaries: 25 Women Explorers and Scientists Share Adventures, Inspiration, and Advice, which was published by National Geographic Kids Books.

Salazar's Athenaeum visit is co-sponsored by the Roberts Environmental Center and the Women in Leadership Alliance (WLA).


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Mon, September 18, 2023
Lunch Program
Shanna Rose

The increasingly deep-seated divide between Democrats and Republicans is confounding the country’s ability to tackle pressing challenges, from climate change to immigration to inequality. In this talk, Shanna Rose, the Alice Tweed Tuohy Associate Professor of Management and Government at CMC and director of the college’s public policy major, will address the challenges of policymaking in an era of extreme partisan polarization. Drawing on her research and teaching, Professor Rose will offer a roadmap for approaching the study and practice of evidence-based policymaking from an open-minded, even-handed perspective. 

Professor Rose's Athenaeum presentation celebrates her installation ceremony as the Alice Tweed Tuohy Associate Professor of Management and Government at Claremont McKenna College.



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Shanna Rose is the Alice Tweed Tuohy Associate Professor of Management and Government at CMC. Her areas of expertise include American politics, federalism, and public policy. She holds a BA in economics from Swarthmore College and a PhD in political economy and government from Harvard University. Prior to joining CMC in 2014, she taught at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.

Professor Rose is the author of Financing Medicaid: Federalism and the Growth of America’s Health Care Safety Net (University of Michigan Press, 2013) and coauthor of Responsive States: Federalism and American Public Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2019), as well as two dozen journal articles, book chapters, and other publications. She is currently completing a book manuscript on the politics of minimum wage policy in the United States, with support from a research grant from the Center for the Study of Federalism.

Professor Rose teaches courses on public policy analysis, empirical methods, and state and local politics and policy. She is the founding director of CMC’s public policy major, one of the College’s fastest growing majors. Professor Rose has earned several college-wide awards including CMC’s Roy P. Crocker Award for Service, Professor of the Year at NYU-Wagner, and the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Student Teaching at the Harvard Kennedy School.

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Mon, September 18, 2023
Dinner Program
Satyan L. Devadoss

Although used and coveted in every sector of today’s data-driven market, the essence of mathematics continues to be shrouded in mythologies. What’s math really about? Satyan Devadoss, recipient of two national teaching awards, will try to solve this puzzle by playing with Beowulf, Burning Man, Albrecht Dürer, Salvador Dali, and origami in the 5th dimension.

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Satyan L. Devadoss is currently the Fletcher Jones professor of applied mathematics and professor of computer science at the University of San Diego. An inaugural fellow of the American Mathematical Society and recipient of teaching awards from the Mathematical Association of America, his thoughts have appeared in venues such as NPR, the Times of London, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He was faculty at Williams for nearly 15 years, holding visiting positions at Ohio State, Harvey Mudd, MSRI, Université Nice, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, and Stanford.

Motivated by the world around us, much of his endeavor revolves around shapes and the ways they can deform and evolve. He is most interested in mathematics one can touch, for we are humans, and the physical world matters. Conveying ideas with clarity, beauty, and simplicity is as important to Devadoss as the discovery of the ideas themselves, resulting in invited presentations from research universities, international centers, and design spaces (Pixar, Google, LucasFilm). 

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Tue, September 19, 2023
Dinner Program
Nicholas Buccola, George Thomas, and Susan McWilliams Barndt

The American Constitution begins by pronouncing itself an act of “We the People” and derives its legitimacy from its ratification by the people. And yet the people rarely appear in the text of the Constitution and citizenship goes largely unmentioned. What is the role of the citizen in securing and perpetuating the Constitution? How have citizens shaped the American constitutional order?  What are the duties and obligations of constitutional citizenship? Does the Constitution provide for the kind of constitutional culture and citizenship it depends on?

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Nicholas Buccola is a Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College. His teaching and research are in the area of American political thought. He is the author of The Fire Is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America and The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass: In Pursuit of American Liberty. He is the editor of The Essential Douglass: Writings and Speeches and Abraham Lincoln and Liberal Democracy. His scholarly essays have appeared in a wide range of academic journals, including The Review of Politics and American Political Thought. His public intellectual work has appeared in The New York TimesSalon, and Dissent. He is currently completing a monograph on the idea of freedom in the civil rights and conservative movements, and co-editing The Princeton History of American Political Thought.

George Thomas is Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions and Director of the Salvatori Center. His research and teaching focus broadly on American constitutionalism. He is the author of The (Un)Written Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2021), The Founders and the Idea of a National University: Constituting the American Mind (Cambridge University Press, 2015), and The Madisonian Constitution (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008). In addition to numerous scholarly articles, his work also has appeared in The Atlantic, The Bulwark, and the Washington Post.  He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Huntington Library, and is the recipient of the Alexander George Award from the American Political Science Association.

Susan McWilliams Barndt is a professor of politics at Pomona College, where she has won the Wig Award for Excellence in Teaching three times. She is an elected member of the governing council of the American Political Science Association and Vice President of the APSA's American Political Thought section. McWilliams has authored and edited several books, including The American Road Trip and American Political Thought (Lexington, 2018) and A Political Companion to James Baldwin (Kentucky, 2017). Her writing has been published widely, including in The American ConservativeBoston ReviewBustThe City, Front Porch RepublicThe Los Angeles Review of Books, The NationPerspectives on Political SciencePolitical Science QuarterlyThe Review of PoliticsSouthern California Quarterly and The Star-Ledger. McWilliams is the co-editor (with Jeremy Bailey, University of Oklahoma) of the American Political Thought book series at the University Press of Kansas and a past editor of the peer-reviewed journal American Political Thought. For her work, McWilliams has received recognitions including the Graves Award in the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.

This discussion is co-sponsored by the Salvatori Center's Lofgren Program on American Constitutionalism.

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Wed, September 20, 2023
Dinner Program
Tamara J. Walker

In Beyond the Shores, Dr. Tamara J. Walker reveals poignant histories of a diverse group of African Americans who have left the United States over the course of the past century. Together, the interwoven stories highlight African Americans’ complicated relationship to the United States and the world at large. Drawing on years of research, Walker chronicles their experiences in atmospheric detail, taking readers from well-known capital cities to more unusual destinations like Yangiyul, Uzbekistan, and Kabondo, Kenya. By sharing the accounts of those who escaped the racism of the United States to try their hands at life abroad, she shines a light on the meaning of home and the search for a better life.

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Tamara J. Walker is an historian and Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Barnard College whose research primarily focuses on slavery and its legacies in Latin America. She is the author of Exquisite Slaves: Race, Clothing, and Status in Colonial Lima (Cambridge University Press, 2017), and is currently working on two new scholarly projects, one on slavery and piracy in the Southern Pacific and the other on blackness in Latin American visual culture. Her latest book, Beyond the Shores: A History of African Americans Abroad, was published by Crown in June 2023.

Dr. Walker's visit to the Athenaeum is co-sponsored by the History Department and the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at CMC.

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Thu, September 21, 2023
Dinner Program
Michael O'Hanlon

Military history offers innumerable lessons for today. It can inspire, with tales of human heroism. It can teach tactical lessons about battle. Military history can also stitch those tactical ideas from individual battles together into narratives about broader campaigns and about strategy. Finally, military history can offer lessons as to the mistakes humans, and leaders in particular, seem most prone to make when undertaking military operations—most of all, the cardinal sin of overconfidence. Can leaders today reflect enough on these lessons to find a way to end the war in Ukraine and prevent one against China over Taiwan?

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Michael E. O’Hanlon is a senior fellow and director of research in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, where he specializes in U.S. defense strategy, the use of military force, and American national security policy. He directs the Strobe Talbott Center on Security, Strategy and Technology, as well as the Defense Industrial Base working group, and is the inaugural holder of the Philip H. Knight Chair in Defense and Strategy. He co-directs the Africa Security Initiative as well. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia, Georgetown, and George Washington universities, and a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He also serves as a member of the Defense Policy Board at the U.S. Department of Defense. O’Hanlon was a member of the external advisory board at the Central Intelligence Agency from 2011-12. O’Hanlon’s latest book, Military History for the Modern Strategist: America’s Major Wars Since 1861 (Brookings and Rowman & Littlefield, 2023) was published in January 2023.

Dr. O'Hanlon will deliver the 2023-24 Lecture in Diplomacy and International Security in Honor of George F. Kennan.

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Mon, September 25, 2023
Dinner Program
Jamel Velji

Can coffee be religious? Many of us who drink coffee might describe it in terms that are sacred—awakening, invigorating, even eye-opening. The earliest people to popularize the beverage in the 15th century also described it in terms that are strikingly similar to those that we use today. This talk shows how early proponents of the bean argued that it should be part of the sacred landscapes of Islam. I then show how coffee drinking impacted changes in Middle Eastern architecture and ritual. I then consider how knowledge about coffee changed as the beverage took hold in Europe.

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Jamel Velji is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College. His work lies at the intersection between Islamic Studies and Religious Studies and is particularly concerned with the ways in which narratives, rituals, and symbols can effect social transformations. He has written extensively on various aspects of apocalypticism, and his book An Apocalyptic History of the Early Fatimid Empire was the inaugural volume of Edinburgh University Press’s series on Islamic Eschatology and Apocalypticism. His current research examines the Islamic history of coffee, and how that history becomes retold in various European and American contexts.

Velji holds A Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an M.A. in Islamic Studies from McGill University, and a B.A. in Religion from Haverford College. His work has been funded by numerous fellowships, including a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, two fellowships from the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada, a Josephine de Kármán Fellowship, and a fellowship from the Institute of Ismaili Studies.

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Tue, September 26, 2023
Dinner Program
Carribean Fragoza

Writing across genres of prose, specifically fiction and nonfiction, and languages can amplify and enrich our experience the world. As a bilingual writer, raised in an immigrant family, Carribean Fragoza draws from the stories, imagery, and vernacular of the quotidian and popular culture to find new ways of being and writing.This talk will address how she utilizes elements of fantasy, magical realism, and horror to reckon with history and confront ongoing colonization. Her writing is often centered on the body as well as the natural and built environment.

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Carribean Fragoza is a fiction and nonfiction writer from South El Monte, CA. Her collection of stories Eat the Mouth That Feeds You was published in 2021 by City Lights and was a finalist for a 2022 PEN Award. Her co-edited compilation of essays, East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte was published by Rutgers University Press and her collection of essays Writing Home: New Terrains of California is forthcoming with Angel City Press. She has published in Harper's Bazaar, The New York Times, Zyzzyva, Alta, BOMB, Huizache, KCET, the Los Angeles Review of Books, ArtNews, and Aperture Magazine. She is the Prose Editor at Huizache Magazine and Creative Nonfiction and Poetry Editor at Boom California, a journal of UC Press. Fragoza is the founder and co-director of South El Monte Arts Posse, an interdisciplinary arts collective. She is a 2023 Whiting Literary Award recipient.

Ms. Fragoza's visit to the Athenaeum is co-sponsored by the Center for Writing and Public Discourse at CMC.

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Wed, September 27, 2023
Dinner Program
Susan Schneider

In this talk, Susan Schneider will discuss the implications of the continuing trend toward increasing machine intelligence. Focusing on the future versions of the now-familiar case of chatbots like GPT, she will consider surprising scenarios that illustrate the possibility that humans may not be the most intelligent entities on the planet for that much longer. She will also delve into related philosophical issues having a bearing on society and national security.

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Dr. Susan Schneider is the William F. Dietrich Professor of Philosophy at Florida Atlantic University. She writes about the nature of the self and mind, especially from the vantage point of philosophy, AI, cognitive science, and astrobiology.  Within philosophy, she has explored the computational nature of the brain in her academic book, The Language of Thought: A New Direction.  More recently, she defened an anti-materialist position about the fundamental nature of mind.  In her new book, Artificial You: AI and the Future of the Mind, she brings these topics together in an accessible way, discussing the philosophical implications of AI and, in particular, the enterprise of "mind design."

Dr. Schneider has met with members of Congress to give presentations of AI and on topics such as data privacy, algorithmic bias, technological unemployment, autonomous weapons, and more. She recently completed a three year project with NASA on the future of intelligence. She appears frequently on television shows on PBS and The History Channel and has written for The New York Times, Scientific American, and the Financial Times, among other venues. She received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Rutgers University.

Dr. Schneider's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at CMC.

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Mon, October 2, 2023
Dinner Program
Shelby Van Pelt '02

A lonely older woman, an unmoored young man...and a snarky Giant Pacific Octopus. In Shelby Van Pelt's novel, REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES (2022, HarperCollins), these characters come together to discover the power of finding friendship in unexpected places. An instant New York Times bestseller, Van Pelt's debut novel, called “memorable and tender” by the Washington Post, was a Today Show “Read With Jenna” book club pick and has sold over a million copies.

In her talk, Van Pelt will discuss the inspiration behind REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES and its unconventional octopus narrator, her writing process, and the exhilaration of becoming a best-selling author overnight. She will also explore the value of keeping contact with one’s artistic side, even when life might demand otherwise, and reflect on how her CMC education helped her through a hairpin career turn from finance to the arts.

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As a PPE major (CMC '02), Van Pelt loved writing, but never imagined she would write fiction. After graduation, she went into consulting, a career in which she flourished for nearly a decade. When a cross-country move brought an opportunity to press pause on that career, she realized she missed writing and decided to try fiction.

Born and raised in Tacoma, WA, Van Pelt graduated cum laude from Claremont McKenna College, where she studied Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES is her first novel. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Drew Van Pelt (CMC '02), and their two children.

Van Pelt is a member of the Board of Advisors of CMC's Gould Center for Humanistic Studies, which co-sponsors her visit to the Athenaeum. Van Pelt is also the first speaker in the Athenaeum's 40th Anniversary Series, which celebrates the achievements of CMC alumni from across the years and invites them to return home to Claremont.


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Tue, October 3, 2023
Dinner Program
Linda M. Perkins, Carmen Rios, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, Diana Selig

Celebrate the extraordinary new anthology 50 Years of Ms.: The Best of the Pathfinding Magazine the Ignited a Revolution (2023) and engage in critical conversation with members of Ms.’s executive and advisory board team, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, Carmen Rios, and Linda Perkins. Moderated by CMC History Professor Diana Selig, the panel will explore what the future of feminism and movement journalism demands and the use of storytelling to promote advocacy and activism.

50 Years of Ms. is a remarkable collection featuring five decades of the magazine’s most startling, audacious, and norm-breaking pieces. Filled with iconic covers, photos, and letters to Ms., it features a foreword from Gloria Steinem and contributions by bell hooks, Alice Walker, Pauli Murray, Eleanor Smeal, Billie Jean King, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Allison Bechdel, Brittney Cooper, Joy Harjo, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, Rita Dove and many more. Ms. remains a trusted feminist source for news, analysis and commentary, and is more critical than ever as the fights for women’s rights and for democracy face new challenges. The anniversary book is as much a reflection of the past 50 years as it is a roadmap for the path forward.

Registrants will receive a free copy of 50 Years of Ms.: The Best of the Pathfinding Magazine the Ignited a Revolution.

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Linda M. Perkins is University Professor and Director of Applied Gender Studies at the Claremont Graduate University.  Her area of research is on the History of Black Women's Higher Education.  She has a forthcoming book in the Spring - For the Good of the Race: Black Women: The History of Black Women's Higher Education from the Antebellum Era to the 1960s (forthcoming, University of Illinois Press).  Perkins is President-Elect of the History of Education Society and serves on the Board of the International Center for Research on Women, where she also serves as Chair of the Board of their Africa Center and a member of the Board of their Asia Center.  Perkins is also a member of Ms. Magazine's Scholars' Board.

Carmen Rios is the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and former Managing Digital Editor for the magazine. She is a feminist writer, broadcaster and community-builder whose pieces on queerness, gender, race and class have been published by BuzzFeed, Bust, CityLab, DAME, ElixHER, Everyday Feminism, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic, the National Women’s History Museum, SIGNS and the Women’s Media Center; and she produced and hosted the popular feminist podcasts POPAGANDA, with Bitch Media, and THE BOSSY SHOW.

Jennifer Weiss-Wolf is the Executive Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Ms. and a regular contributor whose work appears in the 50 Years of Ms. collection. She is also a lawyer, advocate and frequent writer on issues of gender, feminism and politics. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, TIME, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Teen Vogue, NPR, PBS, and NowThis, among others. Jen is the author of the book Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity and is executive director of the Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Center at NYU Law.

Diana Selig is a scholar of twentieth-century U.S. history and is currently the faculty advisor for Gender and Sexuality Studies at Claremont McKenna College. She teaches courses on race and inequality, gender, American schools, women’s political history, and LGBTQ history.  She received the Claremont Colleges diversity and inclusion award in teaching and twice received the Queer Resource Center faculty award for her support of LGBTQ students.  Professor Selig is author of the book Americans All: The Cultural Gifts Movement (Harvard University Press), which tells the story of early efforts at multicultural education in the United States.

This event is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights and the Women and Leadership Alliance at Claremont McKenna College.

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Wed, October 4, 2023
Dinner Program
Joel Motley, Producer

Join the Athenaeum for the inaugural event of the new series, "AthDocs," featuring thought-provoking and incisive documentaries and conversations with filmmakers. Joel Motley, son of civil rights activist Constance Baker Motley and producer of the award-winning short documentary The Trials of Constance Baker Motley (2015), joins CMC for a screening and discussion (watch the trailer here).

At the height of the civil rights movement, Constance Baker Motley joined the NAACP’s legal team. The only woman in the group, she left her husband and infant son in New York for weeks at a time to represent the NAACP in Southern courts. The first female Black lawyer Southern judges and juries had seen, she stunned them by winning case after case—gaining the right for Black students to enter Ole Miss, the University of Georgia, and Clemson College.

After the assassination of one of her closest friends, Motley returned to New York—and went on to become the first Black woman NY State Senator, the first Black Woman Manhattan Borough President, and, with the backing of Lyndon Johnson, the first Black woman named to a federal judgeship.

With archival footage and narration in Motley’s own voice, The Trials of Constance Baker Motley tells the story of a civil rights leader who met prejudice and danger with elegance and humor. 

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Constance Baker Motley (1921 - 2005) was a pioneering civil rights activist, and the first Black woman to argue before the US Supreme Court, winning nine of the ten landmark civil rights cases she argued. As a key member of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), she wrote the original complaint in Brown v. Board of Education. She is also the subject of the highly praised new biography, Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality (2022), by Harvard law professor and Dean of the Radcliffe Institute Tomiko Brown-Nagin.

Joel Motley, producer of this film, began his career in investment banking at Lazard Freres & Co. He then became a Managing Director of Carmona Motley Inc., providing financial advice to municipalities around the United States. He then founded Public Capital Advisors LLC which provided advice to emerging market governments on infrastructure finance in China, Colombia and Kazakhstan. 

Prior to investment banking, Mr. Motley served as an aide to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, serving as chief of the Senator’s staff in New York City and surrounding counties. Mr. Motley joined the Senate staff after five years of corporate law practice which he began at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. 

He has served as a director of the Oppenheimer Funds board, and he was Chairman of the New York board when Oppenheimer Funds merged into Invesco Funds. Mr. Motley now serves as a director of Invesco Mutual Funds, and is Chairman of the Board of the Federal Home Loan Bank System.

Mr. Motley is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and is Chairman Emeritus of the board of Human Rights Watch. He serves on the boards of the Greenwall Foundation, the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting and Historic Hudson Valley. 

Born in New York City, Mr. Motley graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and received his JD from Harvard Law School.

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Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

Claremont McKenna College
385 E. Eighth Street
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Phone: (909) 607-8244


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