E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One
A Yearlong Series of Events



e pluribus unum

Sarah Lawrence College, today and throughout its history, is a convening place to discuss ideas, research, and current events. The College is a marketplace—a cultural hub—for knowledge, traded through discourse and dialogue and rooted in the pursuit of our motto, “wisdom with understanding.” In this spirit, and in advancing what has always been the core of a Sarah Lawrence education, this academic year’s theme was E Pluribus Unum—out of many, one.

Throughout the year, our community, joined by guests, we embarked on an exploration into what this motto means for the United States in 2019-20, and what it means for the College as it approaches its second century of existence.

Though the E Pluribus Unum event series was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we invite you to enjoy recaps of the events that took place in the fall and spring semesters below.

Recent Events

2020 Brendan Gill Lecture featuring Jill Lepore

On March 6, 2020, Sarah Lawrence College welcomed to campus Jill Lepore, staff writer for The New Yorker, Harvard University professor, and author of the bestselling book These Truths: A History of the United States.

Have new methods of assessing data and knowledge in contemporary society had consequences for how we shape—or dismantle—our national identity? Jill Lepore discussed this and more in this engaging event.

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper Professor of American History at Harvard University. She teaches classes in evidence, historical methods, humanistic inquiry, and American political history. Much of her scholarship explores absences and asymmetries in the historical record, with a particular emphasis on the history and technology of evidence. A staff writer for The New Yorker, Lepore writes about American history, law, literature, and politics. She has published a dozen books, including These Truths: A History of the United States; This America: The Case for the Nation; The Name of War (Winner of the Bancroft Prize); New York Burning (Pulitzer Prize Finalist in history); The Story of America (short-listed for the Pen Literary Award for the Art of the Essay); Book of Ages (National Book Award Finalist); The Secret History of Wonder Woman; and IF THEN: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future (forthcoming 2020).

What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man's Blues with Clifford Thompson

On March 2, 2020, the eve of Super Tuesday, essayist, writer, and Sarah Lawrence faculty member Clifford Thompson held a reading from and discussion of his latest book, What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man's Blues, which was released in November 2019. He was joined in this discussion by Provost Kanwal Singh.

Centering African Americans in the American Story with Melissa Harris-Perry

On Friday, February 7, 2020, Sarah Lawrence College welcomed television host, author, political commentator, and professor Melissa Harris-Perry to campus to discuss centering African Americans in the American story.

Dr. Harris-Perry's talk explored intersectional dialogue on a variety of questions related to identity, social justice, and community building, and pushed those in attendance to think about what this means for the United States in 2020 and what it means for the College as it approaches its second century of existence.

The evening featured introductions by President Cristle Collins Judd and Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Fatiah Touray, as well as a special performance by students Bismillah Ba’th '22 and Olivya Conner '22

Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, where she is the founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center, whose mission is to advance justice through intersectional scholarship. She is also founder of the innovative bipartisan program, Wake the Vote. For more than a decade, Harris-Perry has contributed to American public life through her distinct combination of scholarly analysis and extraordinary wisdom applied to the analysis of race, gender, politics, and power. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and many other print and digital venues. She was among the initial cohort of writers for TheRoot.com and authored highly regarded columns for both Essence and The Nation. Currently, she is editor-at large of Elle.com and a contributing editor at The Nation.

Committed to diversifying American journalism and mentoring emerging public voices, Professor Harris-Perry has developed and implemented innovative mentoring efforts, including the Elle.com scholars program centering the stories of women and girls of color and BLACK ON CAMPUS, a national student journalism program in partnership with The Nation. She is the author of the award-winning Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. She hosted the award winning television show Melissa Harris-Perry from 2012-16 on weekend mornings on MSNBC and, in 2016, she won the Hillman Prize for broadcast journalism.

In Conversation:
Kwame Anthony Appiah

On November 14, 2019, the College welcomed best-selling author and professor Kwame Anthony Appiah to campus to discuss his new book, The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity, in a conversation with President Cristle Collins Judd.

The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity explores the nature and history of the identities that define us and challenges our assumptions about how identities work.

This conversation between Dr. Appiah and President Judd discussed how identities are created by conflict, religion’s role in identity, how our everyday notions of race are the detritus of discarded 19th century science, and how class systems can become entrenched by efforts to reform them. Are social identities something we can simply do away with? Can they usher in moral progress and bring significance to our lives by connecting the small scale of our daily existence with larger movements, causes, and concerns?

Kwame Anthony Appiah pens the Ethicist column for The New York Times, and is the author of the prize-winning Cosmopolitanism, among many other works. A professor of philosophy and law at New York University, Appiah lives in New York.

Screening & Conversation with Human Rights Activist Joyce Horman

On November 5, 2019, human rights activist Joyce Horman visited campus to present the 1982 film, Missing. One of Costa-Gavras’ best-known political thrillers, Missing is a historical re-telling of the abduction and murder of the American filmmaker and journalist Charles Horman during the U.S.-backed coup of the democratically-elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende.

The screening was followed by a Q&A with Joyce Horman, founder of the Charles Horman Truth Foundation; Margarita Fajardo, the Alice Stone Ilchman Chair in Comparative and International Studies; and Sally Shafto.