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.
Race and Racism
Johnnetta Betsch Cole's incisive and compelling speeches on race and racism span a nearly forty-year period. In her 1981 speech at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she discusses how racism and sexism were on the rise with the emergence of the New Right, while in her 2008 speech at Harvard she discusses pressing issues facing the Black community at the time. In her 2013 speech in Washington, DC, on Nelson Mandela, Cole shares lessons learned from Mandela's life, such as the importance of forgiveness and taking action to challenge oppression. In her 2015 tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Yale, she raises the important question, “What lessons should we learn from the way that Dr. Martin Luther King came to connect the civil rights movement with war and poverty?” Finally, in her 2019 speech to the Congressional Black Caucus, she contemplates the history of the four-hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans.