A few months ago, our very own President Walsh met another influential Black woman, on Twitter of all places, and started talking about liberation. Their conversation centered around the liberation of Black people, and Black women in particular, sparking an idea that grew into a semester residency here on Bennett College campus.
This semester, we have welcomed Tamara Winfrey-Harris, liberation coach and author, to launch our LiberateHer In Residence program. She hosted live virtual events in February and March for students, staff, alumnae, and the greater Greensboro community. Now, we’re excited to welcome her in-person for Liberation Week here at Bennett College to talk about gender, race, social mobility, and social justice.
“Stereotypes are oppressive and keep us from living freely as our authentic selves because we often live in relation to them, whether trying to disprove them or lean into them,” said Winfrey-Harris. “So I want to work with Bennett Belles on how to liberate themselves from biased ideas of who they are as Black women so they can become free and live as their authentic selves.”
For her 9-5 job, Winfrey-Harris is the Vice President of People, Culture and Brand at Central Indiana Community Foundation, but between the hours of 5-9, she is an author and advocate for Black women and young girls. Her second book, Dear Black Girl: Letters from Your Sisters on Stepping into Your Power, was released in March 2021 and is the, “empowering, affirming love letter our girls need in order to thrive in a world that does not always protect, nurture, or celebrate us,” according to Tarane Burke, founder of the Me Too movement, who offered an endorsement for the book.
“Many of the Black women I talk to say they finally learned to accept themselves later in life, and I’m talking 30, 40, 50 years old,” said Winfrey-Harris. “So I started to think, what would it look like to support girls and young women to feel accepted right now, rather than having them stumble into feeling valuable after retirement, if at all?”
Winfrey-Harris was aware of Bennett College prior to her residency, but started to read up on our history as she conversed with President Walsh. “I remember saying to President Walsh that we were two great tastes that taste great together, like peanut butter and jelly!” said Winfrey-Harris. “I couldn’t imagine a better place to work with young women around the idea of liberation when they’re already in such a nurturing environment. Most people don’t experience this at that age, and definitely not during college.”
You may have caught Winfrey-Harris’ previous virtual events centered around the conversation of self-acceptance and she will continue these discussions during Liberation Week here on campus from April 24-30.
“It’s important to have these conversations so young women can find their freedom, liberation and acceptance earlier than the generation before them,” said President Walsh. “We’re very excited to have Tamara here with us on campus to share her wisdom and insights in conversation with our Bennett Belles.”
Winfrey-Harris will be hosting a variety of scheduled and pop-up sessions during her time on campus. All of these events are free to attend and some require sign-up, so please check the links below to see what’s required.
Liberation Week Schedule:
Monday, April 25 — Office hours
Tuesday, April 26 — Yoga class
Tuesday-Friday, April 26-29 — Liberation mini-camp
Thursday, April 28 — Yoga class
Friday, April 29 — Keynote for Charter Day Ceremony
Winfrey-Harris will also be hosting two evening discussions: “What Does Liberated Sisterhood Look Like?” and a “Let’s Talk About Sex” pajama party — times and dates TBD. Other events, including class visits, social events and appearances on our campus radio show, are being planned as we speak.
“Racism, sexism and capitalism aren’t going away anytime soon, and that’s why liberation is a practice, not a place you arrive,” said Winfrey-Harris. “You need to choose yourself over and over again because life and society try to tell you the opposite — especially if you’re a woman, and especially if you’re a woman of color. Liberation is about having choice, reclaiming our humanity, and living as our authentic selves.”
We hope you join us during Liberation Week to learn more from Tamara Winfrey-Harris as we navigate liberation and what it means to each and every one of us.
If you haven’t read President Walsh’s address on liberation yet, find that here.
Have you shared your freedom statement yet? Tell us what it means to be a free, liberated Black woman right here.