Alumni Against Anti-Blackness: An open letter

We write collectively as a group of concerned and socially engaged Williams College alumni and community members. As the Society of Alumni (SoA) approaches its bicentennial year, we should consider how to collectively embark upon the next hundred years. As alumni of the world’s oldest college alumni society, our celebrations of Williams College, while reflecting on the achievements and milestones of our past, must be accompanied by sustained action to dismantle anti-Black racism, much of which is still being faced by members of our community today. As Ephs, we have benefited from the generosity and labor of our predecessors who taught us to climb high and far. Thus, we can proudly embrace what it means to be an Eph and savor the critical legacies of activists and leaders that reverberate in our current moment.   Building on these radical histories, lived experiences, and collective voices, we formed Alumni Against Anti-Blackness (A3), a multi-generational collective of Williams alumni that leverages the knowledge and power of the alumni community to eliminate anti-Blackness and discrimination at Williams.

A3 offers a space to share collective experiences and exchange strategies that challenge the various manifestations of anti-Black violence and racism in our living, learning, and work environments. A3 stands in solidarity with the ongoing labor of Black students, faculty, staff, and administrators who combat racism on campus and in institutional culture while holding the College accountable. Thank you to President Mandel for her letters  “Williams will confront and fight racial and social injustice,” and more recently, “Toward racial justice and inclusion.” We also find it imperative to emphasize Mandel’s critical words: “We can and must do more. We believe that in order for Williams to be a space in which “all members of the community are heard and represented,” it is imperative that the College place an explicit focus on creating an anti-racist community for Black students, faculty, and staff to thrive. In asking ourselves what doing more looks like, we understand that it means creating a sea of change where we are all doing the work to create an anti-racist College culture.

During our gatherings, many alumni acknowledged their disappointment that current students and recent alumni have dealt with some of the same issues as they did during their time at Williams. We challenge Williams to be a leader among higher education institutions in actively confronting its investments in white supremacist culture. We ask the Williams College administration and departments to examine white privilege and fragility, and engage in self-reflection as to how individuals and leadership can shift towards anti-racism. If Winter Study and Mountain Day are part of a formative Williams experience, anti-racism should also be the fabric upon which these and other aspects of campus life are woven. Together we can chart a new path forward one in which the onus does not simply fall on the oppressed. In the words of Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers, “The revolution will not be diversity and inclusion trainings.” 

We believe that it is the College’s duty to provide its students, faculty, and staff with the skills and tools needed to build just and inclusive communities wherever they are. A3 views this moment as an opportunity for initial dialogue rather than a comprehensive solution to the cyclical anti-Black racism and violence at the College. As alumni, we are foremost committed to seeing a transformation at Williams and having our collective voices included in initiatives on campus. Given our history and experiences, both while at the College and since we have left, we should be included in specific efforts devoted to promoting equity and inclusion at Williams. 

Over 900 College alumni, faculty, and staff members are signatories to this letter. Their names and College affiliations are listed in this spreadsheet. We invite current students, staff, faculty, and alumni to join us in this conversation. You can add your name to the list of signatures using this form. Feel free to reach out to A3 at [email protected]


Jallicia Jolly ’14

Effua Sosoo ’13

Rebecca Williams ’17

Teal Baskerville ’14

Ashley O’Connor ’14

Suji Sutler ’74

Mijon Zulu ’09

Mike Woltz ’00