First Peoples Advising

Day of Absence / Day of Presence

Day of Absence Day of PresenceApril 30 and May 2, 2014

Every year, new and different programming is developed by the Day of Absence and Day of Presence Planning Committee. This year, the Day of Absence will take place on Wednesday, April 30th and the Day of Presence will be on Friday, May 2nd, 2014. We are hosting a variety of 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.




Day of Absence and Day of Presence Workshops & Events Calendar

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 unity dinner celebrated by our African American faculty in the early 1970s as an “act of rebellion”, according to one of its founders. 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, the 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 events throughout the year, designed to increase our understanding of multicultural issues. 

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.

The theme for Day of Absence and Day of Presence 2014 is “Listening Is an Act of Love.” We chose this theme to harmonize with this year’s campus reading of the same name, and our program’s goal is to explore the ways in which telling our stories can help us, as a campus, further our understanding of ourselves, each other, and our ways of seeing.

On Day of Absence (Wednesday, April 30, 2014), members of the Evergreen community have choices about how and where to participate. Off campus, we will be hosting a full-day educational and rejuvenating retreat, which is designed to address issues from the perspective of people of color. At the same time, we will 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.

On Day of Presence on Friday, May 2, the campus reunites to share ideas with each other as allies. For this year’s Day of Presence, we have assembled a program that we hope will allow people to come together and share new insights, foster deeper ties of mutual respect, and move forward with a greater understanding of one another and a fresh resolve in upholding racial justice.

Questions? Comments? Concerns?
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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 rashidal@evergreen.edu