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2020 WGSS Symposium Gives Us Tools to Makes Sense of Election

Before the 2020 election, there was the Annual Women’s History Month Symposium. Rescheduled from March, NU’s Program in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) organized a feminist symposium to prepare the Northeastern community for Election Day, November 4, 2020. This is the symposium’s seventh year, and the first time the entire symposium was held entirely online. Panelists guided attendees on how to interpret election results all while highlighting the presence of feminism in civic life. Zerlina Maxwell, political analyst and activist, was the keynote speaker, interviewed by NU’s own Suzanna Walters. Maxwell reminded listeners of the potential importance of Kamala Harris’s appointment regardless of political orientation. When multiple major news outlets announced a Biden-Harris victory on November 7, her words rang true.

CSSH Professor Moya Bailey moderated the second panel, which covered online and in person organizing. Panelist Carmen Rios reflected upon the ways in which internet access allowed her to be a “citizen of the world,” a sentiment compounded in the contemporary pandemic. In the case of all these panelists, though, there was a focus upon the power of WoC voters. Panelist Katherine Grainger noted that in 2018 a record number of WoC were sent to congress. Indeed many political analysts suspect the Democratic Presidential win was because of the high turn out of  BIPOC women. 

“When you build a community of isolated oppressed people you’re also building a movement…it allows us to imagine a different world together no matter where you are”

– Carmen Rios

The third panel (moderated by Aziza Ahmed) focused on the uniqueness and “juncture” of this presidential election. Notably, Macalester College Professor Duchess Harris explored the ways in which black women’s contributions are overlooked by the party. In light of this newest win bolstered by their pioneering work, it is essential to review Harris’s perspectives again. Luckily, WGSS has made all of the recordings of the panels available to the public. 

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