Johnnetta Betsch Cole, author and editor of numerous books, is President Emerita of Spelman and Bennett Colleges, Director Emerita of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art, and former Chair and President of the National Council of Negro Women. She lives in Florida.
Paula Giddings, 2023. "The Importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities", Speechifying: The Words and Legacy of Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Erica Lorraine Williams
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As president of the nation's only two historically Black colleges for women—Spelman College and Bennett College for Women—Johnnetta Betsch Cole's speeches in this chapter affirm the importance of HBCUs. In her 1988 Spelman College inaugural address, she shares her vision for Spelman as a “mecca of Black women's studies,” weaving together poetry and sociological concepts to offer a hopeful message that captures the importance of liberal arts and the education of servant leaders. In her 2012 speech at the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development HBCU Forum, she discusses the accomplishments of HBCUs and the various factors that make them successful. In her 2012 Howard University speech, she contemplates the history and origins of HBCUs, as well as their impact on African American communities and the world. The chapter concludes with a 1988 interview between Cole and Paula Giddings, which offers a candid discussion of the significance and impact of Spelman and Cole's role as a nontraditional president.