WELCOME TO BOLIN LEGACY MENTORSHIP WEEKEND 2022!
Williams College and our Alumni of Color Networks — the Williams Asian & Asian American Alumni Network (WAAAAN), the Williams Black Alumni Network (WBAN), and the Williams Latinx Alumni Network (WLAN) — welcome our Williams communities of color, as well as friends and allies, to Bolin Legacy Mentorship Weekend 2022 on May 13-14.
Following an important WBAN tradition, this weekend recognizes the first Black graduate of Williams College and the first in his family to attend college, Gaius Charles Bolin Sr., Class of 1889. As a proud and committed Williams man, Bolin never ceased to name the importance of the relationships he had fostered while at the College, and the significance of his Williams experiences throughout his life, which he dedicated to his communities, offering support wherever it was needed.
These past two years, our idea of community has been challenged in all the ways possible. Yet, the resilience, activism, strength, imagination, and camaraderie that emerged has redefined how our communities will continue to grow, shift, and evolve. Following the Society of Alumni's Bicentennial, in the midst of an ongoing health pandemic and national racial reckoning, and with this year's 40th anniversary of WBAN and the 30th anniversaries of WAAAAN and WLAN in 2023, we find ourselves in a significant moment. One that offers us the opportunity to rethink and reimagine a future of continuous community-building, connection, advocacy, volunteerism, and support…a future where every student and alum of color truly feels that this is where they belong.
Although we are not able to be together again for this special weekend, let us continue to remember what it is for: to celebrate the power and voice of our students and alumni of color within our Alumni Networks, the Society of Alumni, the College, and beyond.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Please Note: Participants with receive ALL event links on Friday, May 6, no matter your choices upon registration. Sharing your choices will support documentation and event coordination.
|Supporting Each Other: Stories on Mentorship
MONDAY, MAY 9 - SATURDAY, MAY 14
Follow @ephalum and hear from mentors and mentees about their experiences in EphLink, including:
-Advice and tips on how to be or find a mentor
EphLink has a variety of community features, including Groups that provide alumni and students the opportunity to gather virtually around a common interest, affinity, or identity. Some examples include First Generation Students & Alumni; International Students & Alumni; LGBTQ+ Students & Alumni; Students & Alumni of Color; Veteran Students & Alumni; and Women Students & Alumnae. Throughout Bolin weekend, attendees are encouraged to post updates in Groups about their #bolin2022 experience as you connect and continue these valuable conversations.
|AAPI Life & Experiences at Williams with President Maud S. Mandel
FRIDAY, MAY 13 | 11:00-12:00 P.M. ET/8:00-9:00 A.M. PT
As part of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and Bolin Legacy Mentorship Weekend, you're invited to join President Maud S. Mandel and Tyler Tsay '19 for a conversation about AAPI life and experiences on campus, including progress toward creating an Asian American Studies program and the support and space for AAPI students being created through the Davis Center Initiative.
|Pursuing the Arts: Finding Paths and Value as an Artist
FRIDAY, MAY 13 | 3:30-5:00 P.M. ET/12:30-2:00 P.M. PT
The performing arts at Williams have touched students and alumni in a wide range of ways - from courses and majors, to joining or supporting dance and musical groups, attending music performances, or engaging with local arts institutions. For some, these connections were essential to their experience in the Purple Valley and influenced their post-Williams trajectory, but finding support and networking opportunities oftentimes came with its challenges.
Learn from Maxine Lyle '00 and Jason Lucas '02 as they examine their journey after and back to Williams as evolving performing artists; the tools and resources they found to be necessary in their professional development; and the value they have found as professionals in the arts, both for themselves and the communities they collaborate with, including their alma mater. This conversation will be moderated by Obi Nwako '24, Sankofa Step Team member and theater enthusiast.
|Eph Connect: The Bolin Legacy @ Work | A Virtual Networking Event for Alumni and Students of Color
FRIDAY, MAY 13 | 5:00-6:00 P.M. ET/2:00-3:00 P.M. PT
In celebration of the enduring legacy of Gaius Charles Bolin Sr., Class of 1889, who became a prominent lawyer and Bar Association president after Williams, the Alumni Relations team is pleased to host an online meetup for all Bolin Legacy Weekend attendees. Our virtual networking platform offers a forum for alumni and students of color, representing every age, gender and personal/professional stage, to make new connections, share experiences and build their Williams community. You can choose video, voice or text-based chat as you are connected for sequential 1:1 conversations. Networking clusters will be organized around the alumni of color groups below. Please note that, even if you are not an active member of a group yet you identify with it, you are welcome to join! You can also participate in one, two or all three simultaneously!
Whether you’re able to join the meetup for 10 minutes, the entire hour or any time in between, you’ll leave with meaningful new connections and a renewed appreciation for the impact alumni and students of color have had on each other, Williams and the world since Gaius Bolin graduated in 1889. Expect to be matched with both alumni and students as you have these conversations, appreciating that everyone - regardless of class year - has wisdom and perspectives to impart.
-Williams Asian and Asian American Alumni Network
-Williams Black Alumni Network
-Williams Latinx Alumni Network
|Bravely Building a Job You Love
SATURDAY, MAY 14 | 1:30-3:00 P.M. ET/10:30-12:00 P.M. PT
If you cannot find the career path that calls to you, how do you shape it for yourself? If you are being called to pursue another avenue, what steps do you need to take and how do you find support? If you recognize your field needs to change for the better, how can you be part of that change? Hear from LaRon Batchelor '92, Andy Huang '04, and Paula Santos '07 as they reflect upon these questions and their journeys after Williams and beyond. This conversation will be moderated by Hector Hernandez Contreras '23.
|Ask Me Anything: Support for Inclusive Belonging
SATURDAY, MAY 14 | 3:30-4:45 P.M. ET/12:30-1:45 P.M. PT
Come with your questions as we continue exploring the ways alumni can support the next generations of alumni of color, and inspire change and action within the College. What resources are students of color -- across race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and generational status --receiving at Williams? What steps is the College taking to continue growing and amplifying these resources, including the renovation of the Davis Center? How and in what ways can alumni support these students and initiatives? These are examples of the questions our invited Williams College staff speakers will be responding to and addressing in a format including a panel and breakout group discussions.
This conversation will be moderated by Annie Jeong '14.
Panelists will include:
-Eden-Reneé Hayes, Director of the Davis Center, Davis Center
-Aly W. Corey, Associate Director for Inclusive Learning Environments, Davis Center
-Rebecca A. Garcia, Associate Dean of Students/ Dean of Williams Firsts, Dean's Office
-Scott A. Henderson, Senior Project Manager, Office of Planning Design & Construction
|Alumni Keynote Address: Anita Earls '81 | Operationalizing Diversity in the Professional Setting: Reflections on the Significance of the First African-American Woman's Confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court
SATURDAY, MAY 14 | 6:00-8:00 P.M. ET/3:00-5:00 P.M. PT
Join us in the conclusion of this special weekend with remarks by Williams College President Maud S. Mandel and our alumni keynote address by civil rights attorney and educator Anita Earls '81, Supreme Court of North Carolina Associate Justice. The Q&A and conversation will be moderated by Williams College Assistant Professor of History Tyran Steward.
Anita will explore what it means for institutions such as the Supreme Court, with a long history of exclusion of women and of African-Americans, to be at the point where Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will not be the first African-American nor the first woman on the Court, but the first African-American woman. What is required for diversity in the judiciary and why does it matter?
From the other side, what does it mean for her? How does she navigate that space and remain true to her stated values? Does she bring a different perspective to the law and what is her responsibility to speak for those previously not spoken for at the Court? In her confirmation hearings she shared a story about her experience as a freshman at Harvard University when she wondered, “Do I really belong here?” and “Can I make it in this environment?” and the encouragement she received from a black woman passing her on the sidewalk who read her face and leaned over to tell her “Persevere”. What does it take to persevere and is that enough?
|Gaius C. Bolin, Class of 1889, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York on September 10, 1864 to Ann and Abraham Bolin. One of thirteen children, he was a product of both public and private secondary schooling in the city. He graduated from Poughkeepsie High School in 1883 and proceeded to spend the following two years receiving training in Latin and Greek from John R. Leslie’s Select Classical School. While there, the school’s president, a graduate of Williams College, took note of Bolin’s affinity for learning and encouraged him to consider sharpening his intellect at his alma mater. He entered with a class of 81 other students in the fall of 1885 and graduated in June of 1889 as the College’s first Black graduate.
While a student at Williams, Bolin carved out space for himself as a Black man, but he was also intentional about assuming the status and prestige of a Williams man. Because of residential college policies that did not allow Black students to live on campus, he lived with the Dunsett family for a brief time as one of less than twenty Black people in Williamstown in the late 1880s.
Still, this did not deter him from laying claim to the Williams College campus and community. Even before accommodations were made for him to live on campus during his final year, Bolin sought to find ways to make the most of his time in Williamstown as a student. He continued taking courses in Latin and Greek, apparently finding much comfort in the curriculum. He played football throughout all four years, occasionally participated in tug-of-war matches with other students, and frequently found time to cheer for the baseball team when they traveled to Harvard or Amherst. He was even nominated as the pipe orator by his classmates for the commencement exercises of 1889.
He saw his peers—and himself—as Williams graduates who would become some of the country’s best doctors, lawyers, judges, and ministers. If there was racial discord during Bolin’s time at the College, he never spoke openly of it, choosing instead to cite the desperately cold winter weather and muddy grounds as some of his most vividly unpleasant memories. Perhaps he found comfort in the presence of Abe Bunter, a Black man who found his way to Williams after having been enslaved in the South. Perhaps the Black women with whom he lived made him feel a little less isolated. Perhaps his younger brother, who entered Williams a year after him, afforded him a sense of home. However he fashioned a sense of belonging while at the College, Bolin made it clear that his experience at Williams was one that he was happy to reflect on. “I am eternally proud that I am a graduate of Williams College, Williamstown, Mass., in as fine a class as ever emerged from that institution, the beloved Class of 1889,” he wrote to his class secretary in the spring of 1939.
Immediately after graduation, Bolin returned to Poughkeepsie to labor with his father in the poultry and produce business. Though he enjoyed working with him and their efforts were fairly successful, Bolin left after a year to study in the law office of Fred E. Ackerman. There, he learned the contours of American law, how to apply it practically, and how to practice it fairly. Two years later, on December 15, 1892, he was admitted to the bar. He held his law office in the same city that he had been born and raised in, the same city that his family had called home for more than 200 years. Seven years later, he married Matilda Ingraham Emery, an Irish woman who had been educated in the public schools of Troy. From their marriage came four children: Anna Amy, Gaius, Jr., Ivy Rosalind, and Jane Matilda.
He attempted to use his legal training not to enact the harshest forms of punishment possible, but to temper justice with mercy. He also used the Dutchess County branch of the NAACP, of which he was a founding member, as a vehicle to achieve racial justice for Black people in upstate New York. His daughter, Jane Bolin—the first Black woman to both graduate from Yale Law School and become a federal judge—described him as a man who “helped every Black person who sought his help, whether financial, economic or free legal services. He always subscribed to Black newspapers from New York, Chicago and Baltimore... My father instilled in us great pride in ourselves and our race.” Gaius Charles Bolin died a resident of Poughkeepsie, New York at the age of 81 on April 16, 1946. He had been a practitioner of the law and an advocate for its utility for fifty-one years.
A proud graduate of Williams, he never ceased to name the importance of community in shaping his time while at the College; the significance of those relationships in his life after graduation; and his appreciation for having had those experiences as a Black man. In many ways, every student that has attended Williams after Gaius who was not a “young [white] Christian man” owes a debt of gratitude to him for being the first and paving the way for students of color, sometimes the first in their family to attend college, to be apart of the Williams community. In honor of Gaius Bolin’s lifetime commitment to social justice, his dedication to his community and his love of Williams and Eph camaraderie, we invite you to enjoy this weekend to create spaces but also use it as a moment to reflect on how we can honor his memory and build on our Bolin Legacy.
Written & researched by Cinnamon Williams '16 & Sharifa Wright '03
ADDITIONAL WAYS TO CONNECT WITH BOLIN 2022
|Do you have advice/tips on how to be or find a mentor? Any reflections or stories about your experience as a mentee, mentor, or using EphLink you'd like to share?
Then let us know if you'd like to be highlighted on the EphAlum Instagram page during the week leading up to Bolin Weekend! Participation can be catered to your schedule and availability.
|EphLink has a variety of community features, including Groups that provide alumni and students the opportunity to gather virtually around a common interest, affinity, or identity. Some examples include First Generation Students & Alumni; International Students & Alumni; LGBTQ+ Students & Alumni; Students & Alumni of Color; Veteran Students & Alumni; and Women Students & Alumnae.
Throughout Bolin weekend, attendees are encouraged to post updates in Groups about their #bolin2022 experience as you connect and continue these valuable conversations.
|Learn about the Davis Center Building Initiative and how you can stay involved as an alum - connect with students and staff, plan an event with your Alumni Network, or support with a gift.
The new Davis Center will offer students a modern space to feel safe and be comfortable—a place to connect with DC staff and Community Engagement Fellows, cook a group meal, watch a movie, or plan for and host campus awareness campaigns, lectures, conversations, film series, and more. Built for current and future needs, the Davis Center buildings will nurture education, activism, community building, well-being and celebration.