- Open to the Public
In the complex history of Amherst College, there is no perhaps more poignant story than that of Gerald Penny ’77, an accomplished young Black man from New Orleans. Sept. 12, 2023, marks the 50th anniversary of Gerald Penny’s drowning in Pratt Pool during a swim test for new students. While his tragic death had an immediate and lasting impact on the College, to fully honor his memory requires a deeper look into its broader circumstances and a reckoning with the racist systems, structures and assumptions that contributed to his death and that, in many ways, still affect us today.
A ceremony will be hosted to honor Gerald and his legacy, featuring remarks from President Michael Elliott and Sheree Ohen, chief equity and inclusion officer; excerpts from the 1974 dedication of the Black Cultural Center; and opportunities for reflection and prayer. The event will conclude with the ringing of the Stearns Steeple bells at the time of Gerald’s death. A reception will follow the ceremony.
For more information about Gerald Penny ‘77 and the dedication of the Black Culture Center in 1974, as well as future programming, please visit the link below.