About the Presenter

Irene Smalls holds an MBA in Behavioral Science and a degree in Black Studies from Cornell University. A Black student activist, she is the founder of the Cornell Black Alumni Association and Wari House, the first official Black women’s residence on an Ivy League college campus. Smalls led the first Black student protests at Cornell university, protesting the mistreatment of Black women in Cornell’s Balch Dormitory. A former Black beauty queen, Irene was also one of the first natural hair, AFRO, models for Supreme Beauty Products in the 1960s. Smalls sold Black love to the military with her line of “I Love You” Black woman, Black man, Black child T shirts. Smalls arranged the purchase of a million dollars worth of land for a dispossessed Black church for $1. Growing up in Harlem, New York during the 1950s, Irene has experienced segregation, integration, racial violence, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and present-day racial conservatism.
She is the author of 4 Black history picture books for children sourced from original enslaved narratives. They are part of her 12 month, one Black history book for each month of the year, picture book series.


“Thank you Irene for such a wonderful, informative, and very important workshop for our families.”

Stephanie Rodriquez
Educational Director A-B-C Harlem, Headstart
“Your program was excellent and the audience thoroughly enjoyed your talk.”
Kim Alda
Mississippi Teacher

” I want to express our appreciation for your enriching presentation. The audience connected with you and were engaged in very personal way with your story.”

William Dandridge
Education Dean, Lesley College


Irene and her books have received recognition in various media outlets, including Newsweek, People Magazine, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Essence, Ebony, Jet, The Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, Black Enterprise, Boston Magazine, and PBS’s World Channel Stories from the Stage. She has been invited twice to share her stories at the White House and has developed literacy-oriented corporate promotions with New England Telephone, The Gillette Company, and State Street Bank. Irene Smalls is a contributing writer to Parents.com and holds national certification as a Minority/Woman-owned business.
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