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Panel Discussion

Held on Thursday, September 17, 2020

ywca protest marchers
Photograph Courtesy YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts

At this historic and unprecedented time, this online panel discussion showcased the rich legacy of civic engagement of women, especially women of color and young adults. Headlined by Dr. Premilla Nadasen, Professor of History at Barnard College and OAH Distinguished Lecturer, and featuring local civically engaged female panelists, the discussion highlighted ways that women of color have historically organized to address inequity for women, and how they continue to address issues of class, race, and other oppressions. We hope this recorded event will inspire you to exercise your rights and be an engaged community member, citizen, and voter.

Women of Color Lighting the Way to Equality in New Bedford and Beyond is presented by the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts. Support for this event comes from “The Vote: A Statewide Conversation on Voting Rights,” which is a special initiative of Mass Humanities that includes organizations around the state and is made possible by Mass Cultural Council.

View Presenter Bios Here.


  • Gail Fortes, Executive Director, YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts
  • Lee Blake, President, New Bedford Historical Society

Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer

  • Dr. Premilla Nadasen, Professor of History at Barnard College


  • Laurel Berryman, Race & Gender Equity Coordinator, YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts
  • Rayana Grace, Arts & Culture Program Manager, SouthCoast Community Foundation
  • Lisa Lemieux, President, Southeastern Massachusetts Central Labor Council
  • Maria Rosario, Executive Director, NorthStar Learning Centers


  • Christina Turner, Director of Education, New Bedford Whaling Museum


Nine African American women gather for the Banner State Woman’s National Baptist Convention in 1915 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA)

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