Born in Philadelphia, Gwendolyn VanSant spent her childhood mostly on naval bases on the East Coast. She first learned about W. E. B. Du Bois when she was accepted into Bard College at Simon’s Rock at age 15. Gwendolyn’s love of Spanish, learning, and meeting new people led her to an early career as an interpreter and translator. In 2007, Gwendolyn and her colleague Marthe Bourdon co-founded Multicultural Berkshire Resources for Integration of Diverse Groups through Education (BRIDGE), a minority- and women-run non-profit promoting equity, justice, and trust. In addition to receiving local and state recognitions, she is Vice Chair of the W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Committee, an active partner to and member of the NAACP, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Board for Social Justice, and member of the Berkshire Commission on the Status of Women. She serves on the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts board.
“I feel like I’ve lived into being an African American woman… In a way, I was avoiding it as a young scholar wanting to be acknowledged as smart and capable just because I am, not because I was the Black girl in the room. It’s very different trying to fit in rather than being honored for my intrinsic value as a human being.”
The full interview will be available soon through Special Collections and University Archives at the UMass Amherst Libraries.
A full transcript of the interview can be accessed here.