They Said:

Some thoughts expressed during Claiming Williams Day on Feb. 5, 2009.

“You come to college to be among people who are remaking themselves. … You come to this place where you are not safe but have to pretend every day to be so.”

Dorothy Allison, award-winning author, feminist and editor of early lesbian and gay journals, in her talk “Making Home Among Strangers.”

“One of the principal difficulties that white people have with discussing race is worrying about the language that might pop out of them—how to talk about these things—and worrying ‘What will people think?’”

Peggy Diggs, former Williams studio art lecturer, on her public art project “Face,” which involved the creation and distribution across campus of more than 35,000 brown napkins printed with messages about race during the week following Claiming Williams Day. Record, 2.11.09

“A community made up of leaders can move forward. It will be enriched by communication, empathy, fairness, consistency, openness and kindness.”

Peter Roby, Northeastern University athletics director and director of the university’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, during his talk “Diversity and the Appreciation of Difference in 21st Century Leadership.”

“The words ‘black’ or ‘feminist’ or ‘immigrant’ or ‘lesbian’ might intimidate on paper, but when you meet me, I’m just a down-to-earth poet with a pocket full of stories to tell. I feel collective laughter is a bridge to collective understanding, so I lace the painful truths with humor.”

Lenelle Moïse, performance artist and self-proclaimed “culturally hyphenated promosexual poet,” on her solo show “Womb-Words, Thirsting.” Record, 2.11.09