This past week marked Kimberlé Crenshaw’s residency on campus to receive the Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize. She attended various events throughout the week, all of which promoted the theme of intersectionality, a concept she coined and has produced pioneering work on.
She attended the “Ebony Axis” launch event on Oct. 23 to celebrate the third installment of “Ebony Axis,” a zine for black women created by LaShawn Simmons ’18. She spoke to many classes, including Black Feminist Thought and Women in American Politics. Other classes, such as The Teaching of English Language Learners: Pre-K to 12, attended the talk together instead of their usual class.
Student enthusiasm for Crenshaw’s lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 25, overwhelmed the space Brandeis designated for it, the Rapaporte Treasure Hall. The hall has a capacity of 120 people, and there were far too many students for the space. People sat in the aisles, stood outside in the rain and crammed into any open space to hear Crenshaw deliver her lecture.
Though it can be hard to anticipate event attendance, Brandeis should plan to hold events with big-name speakers like Crenshaw in a much larger room. There are several spaces on campus with much larger capacities. The SCC theater holds 249 people, the Levin Ballroom 450 and the Sherman Function Hall 350. These spaces aren’t as photogenic as the Rapaporte Treasure Hall, but the opportunity to hear someone like Crenshaw speak in person far outweighs the slight difference in photo quality. It is certainly not worth creating a fire hazard just to set up a perfect photo op.
The size of the crowd at Rapaporte on Wednesday is a testament to Crenshaw’s influence and admiration at Brandeis. Crenshaw’s residency created a unique opportunity for Brandeis students to interact directly with scholarship they may have read in their classes.
Her talk gave a clarifying look at critical race theory and the application of intersectionality to Trump’s presidency, and we are grateful for her contributions to our campus discourse that have left a lasting impact on many students.