Day of Absence & Day of Presence
Every year, we invite the campus community to participate in two full days of activities designed to address current issues surrounding race at Evergreen and beyond.
Image: Attendees at the 2016 Day of Absence Off-Campus gathering
Day of Absence (Wednesday, April 12, 2017)
On Day of Absence, members of the Evergreen community have choices about how and where to participate. Off campus, at a community venue, we host a full-day educational and social program designed to address issues from the perspective of people of color.
At the same time, we offer a full-day, on-campus program focusing on allyship and anti-racism work from a majority culture or white perspective.
Because of the need for a dedicated space to explore issues of diversity within each of these two perspectives, each program has been designed with a specific community-building objective in mind. And because many of us are mixed, and may not wholly identify ourselves with one community or the other, we invite each person to attend the program of their choice, wherever they feel most comfortable.
Day of Presence (Friday, April 14, 2017)
On Day of Presence, the campus reunites on campus to share ideas with each other as allies.
History and Origins
The idea for the first Day of Absence came from a play of the same name by African American playwright, Douglas Turner Ward. Presented in 1965 as a “reverse minstrel show” (black actors in whiteface), the play is a social commentary on race relations in the U.S., and satirizes the South’s refusal to see African Americans as equal members of the community. In the play, a town wakes up to find all of its African American citizens have disappeared, leaving those left to reflect on the meaning of their community without these essential members.
The Day of Absence, as it was originally known, was a grassroots collective action by Evergreen staff and faculty of color in the early 1970s, sparked by a discussion of the play. In the decades following, it grew to become an opportunity for all students, faculty and staff at Evergreen to explore and celebrate the richness of our diversity by facilitating conversations about issues of difference. In 1992, Day of Presence was added in order to reunite the college community and honor diversity and unity as a whole campus.
Day of Absence and Day of Presence Today
Currently, although we still celebrate Day of Absence and Day of Presence with two full days of activities every Spring quarter, we also sponsor a variety of events and activities throughout the year created to hone our discussion and analytical skills in regards to the complex and vital issues of race, inclusion, diversity, privilege, allyship and their intersections.
Each year, the Day of Absence and Day of Presence Planning Committee develops a new program of events and workshops to address current issues surrounding race at Evergreen and beyond. This committee is open to the entire campus, and anyone who is interested is invited to participate.
Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Learn More by Becoming Involved!
Help Evergreen continue this tradition of focusing on the essential nature of diversity and anti-oppression work.
For questions or more information please contact First Peoples Advising Services, 360-867-6467 or email@example.com