An African American Female Student Perspective on Coeducation at Bowdoin: A Discussion with Saddie Smith
As a member of Bowdoin’s first class of admitted women, Saddie Smith had to balance being both a female and an African American student. Failure at Bowdoin was not an option for Smith, a first-generation college student, so she put her nose to the books. Smith credits Bowdoin for the confidence that led her to impressive heights, from a Sewall Latin Prize at Bowdoin, to a degree at Columbia Law School, to the influential VP position she now holds at Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Inc. To hear Smith tell her story about how she established herself as an African American woman in the first class of women at Bowdoin, listen to the audio links below. You will see how she uses humor to her advantage.
Audio: click tracks(s) below to begin listening
Quotation: [In reference to the practice of bussing women from other schools to Bowdoin for parties] “It was a carryover, cause I was a freshman, so that’s kind of what they did. That was part of the whole social thing is bringing, I guess, busloads of women to campus and they kind of, like, forgot about—well I guess it’s kind of good because they saw us as, like, just one of the guys.”
Quotation: [In reference to difference between HBC and Bowdoin]“I think it was easier for me to fit in at Bowdoin than it would have been for me to fit in at say, Spellman, because at Bowdoin it was obvious that I was different; a woman, a minority. But in a Historically Black College I think I would have, there would have been more pressure to try to fit because I was one of them.”
Quotation: [In reference to being both an African American and female]“Black women, we kinda get rolled up into one or the other. Either black or either woman and we never get our little, like, standalone kind of thing and I think it’s a very different dynamic, and a dual personality, and you’re always balancing the African American verses the woman.”
Citation: I, Stephanie Bond, interviewed Saddie Smith ‘75 on Sunday, November, 20 2011, in New York, New York. We discussed how Saddie Smith’s experience as a member of the first admitted class of women at Bowdoin College was shaped by her status as both an African American and female student.