Women of Color at Union College

A Particular Struggle

The Union College community was predominantly white for many years. Women of Color had, and continue to have, a particular struggle with both racial and gender identities and roles. The editors of Perspective, a section of the Concordiesis by the students of the Black Student Alliance, were often Black women, and Gail Chatham was one such editor. Gloria V. Jones wrote for Perspective as well.  Women such as these fought for racial justice alongside their womanhood, although intersectionality as it stands today was not as examined of an issue at the time.  The term intersectionality was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989 in an article where she states:

"To bring this back to a non-metaphorical level, I am suggesting that Black women can experience discrimination in ways that are both similar to and different from those experienced by white women and Black men. Black women sometimes experience discrimination in ways similar to white women's experiences; sometimes they share very similar experiences with Black men. Yet often they experience double-discrimination the combined effects of practices which discriminate on the basis of race, and on the basis of sex. And sometimes, they experience discrimination as Black women-not the sum of race and sex discrimination, but as Black women."37 

Perspective logo,  February 11, 1976. Original held in the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

Gail Chatman from the 1977 Union Book, courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

Gloria V. Jones from the 1977 Union Book, courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

Estelle Cook, 1974. Image from the Garnet, courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

Editorial in Perspective, 1973.  Original held in the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

Perspective demand, 1976. Original held in the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

Gretchel Hathaway, courtesy of the Department of Communications and Marketing. 

Deidre Hill Butler, 2020. Image courtesy of Deidre Hill Butler.

Firsts

The first Woman of Color granted faculty status was librarian W. Loretta Walker, who worked in the library from 1968 to 1981.38

Estelle Cooke-Sampson was the first Woman of Color appointed to the Board of Trustees. She was an early alum of the College after coeducation became official, and she is now a physician at Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC.

Gretchel Hathway was the first Woman of Color on Senior Staff at Union College, having acquired her position as Senior Director for Campus Diversity and Affirmative Action in 2008. She was the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer, as well as the inaugural Director of Community Outreach.  As of this year, she has taken a position at Franklin and Marshall in Pennsylvania as Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Professor Deidre Hill Butler of the Department of Sociology was the first Woman of Color on the teaching faculty to earn tenure in 2009.  She is Associate Professor of Sociology and Academic Chief Diversity Officer at Union College. 

37Crenshaw, Kimberle. "Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine,
Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics." University of Chicago Legal Forum 8, no. 1 (1989): 149, http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclf/vol1989/iss1/8.
38Somers, 114.
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