Spelman College (Atlanta) Celebrates 125 Years of Women Who Changed the World. Rolls Out a Blue Carpet for its 125th Anniversary Signature Event

Share Article

Since 1881, Spelman College has educated women who have been agents of change. This 125th legacy is celebrated in year; and on April 10th, Spelman rolls out a "Blue Carpet" of VIP's for its Anniversary Event at the Georgia Aquarium. The signature event honors students, faculty, alumnae, trustees and friends, April 10.

Since 1881, Spelman College has educated women who have been agents of change, women who have challenged the status quo — women who have worked to make a difference in their communities. This 125-year legacy will be celebrated from April 1-11 with a series of programs, including “An Evening with Donnie McClurkin,” a scholarship fund-raiser; and the 125th Anniversary Signature Event to be held at the Georgia Aquarium on Monday, April 10 at 7 p.m.

A formal program that features an evening of music, drama and dance, the Signature Event will honor those whose lives, legacies and achievements bear witness to the College’s mission of academic excellence, service and social change. Alumnae honorees include legendary opera singer Mattiwilda Dobbs, leading feminist scholar Beverly Guy-Sheftall, groundbreaking scientist and historian Evelynn Hammonds and renowned cultural historian and founder of a cappella group Sweet Honey In The Rock Bernice Johnson Reagon. In addition, philanthropists Charles Merrill, and Ted and Barbara Aronson will be honored, along with the Cosby and Rockefeller families. Also, the dynamic Jonnetta Patton, artist manager and mother of R&B superstar Usher Raymond, will be recognized with the Legacy Award.

Additional program participants include actress and alumna Keisha Knight Pulliam, author, playwright and alumna Pearl Cleage, television personality and alumna Rolonda Watts, ESSENCE editorial director Susan Taylor, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, hip-hop legend MC Lyte, flutist extraordinaire Bobbi Humphrey, celebrity chef and TV One Television host G. Garvin, and Atlanta Mayor Shirley C. Franklin.

“Celebrating 125 years is an important milestone in our history,” said Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, the College’s ninth president. “Each generation of students and each presidential leader has had the opportunity and obligation to build on the success of those who came before. During this anniversary, we want to remind ourselves of the critical importance of our mission.”

Spelman College was founded by Harriet E. Giles and Sophia B. Packard, two white Christian missionaries from Massachusetts who traveled through the South shortly after the Civil War. Appalled by the living conditions and the absence of educational opportunity for Black people, these women made it their mission to do something about the situation by establishing a school to educate Black women. Their cause — described by one critic as “providing classical education for ‘colored girls’” — was a source of their ridicule and isolation in post-Civil War Atlanta. However, they were convinced that an education grounded in faith and the liberal arts was necessary for the transformation of lives and communities. It was clear that the intention of the founders was to advance the dignity of Black women and their communities.

“Their strategy worked — Spelman women did transform their communities as teachers, missionaries, nurses, social workers, artists and activists,” explained President Tatum. “They also became trailblazers in various professions as doctors, lawyers, professors and engineers—to name a few. This illustrious past has been the fuel for the success of Spelman today.”


Saturday, April 1, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.


Cosby Academic Center

Financial literacy and planning workshops for women of all ages, co-sponsored by the Spelman College Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (LEADS) and the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation

7:30 p.m.

Jazz Ensemble Spring Concert

Sisters Chapel

Wednesday, April 5, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Alumnae Rally

Cole Living Learning Center II Auditorium

An academic dialogue with President Beverly Daniel Tatum and Provost Johnnella Butler

Thursday, April 6, 11 a.m. – Noon

Awards Convocation

Sisters Chapel

Featuring the Founders Spirit Award and other Founders Day award presentations

Honorees include:

Mrs. Maenelle Dixon Dempsey, C’33

Retired Georgia State Department of Education Administrator

Founders Spirit Award Recipient

Dr. Audrey Forbes Manley, C’55

President Emerita, Spelman College and Former Acting U.S. Surgeon General

Founders Spirit Award Recipient

April 6 – 9

Spiral--ing Out

Fine Arts Building – Baldwin Burroughs Theatre

A concert presented by the Spelman Dance Theatre

April 6, 7 and 8 – 8 p.m.

April 9 – 3 p.m.

Friday, April 7

9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Research Day: A Celebration of Student Scholarship

Various campus locations

7:30 p.m.

An Evening with Donnie McClurkin

Sisters Chapel

A scholarship fundraiser and gospel music celebration

Saturday, April 8, 8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Breakfast at Tiffany & Co., featuring the Alumnae Achievement Awards

Tiffany & Co. at Phipps Plaza

By special invitation only

7 p.m.

Miss Spelman Pageant

Sisters Chapel

Sunday, April 9, 10 a.m. - Noon

Founders Day Worship Service

Sisters Chapel

Speaker: The Rev. Dr. William V. Guy

Pastor, Friendship Baptist Church

Atlanta, Georgia

Monday, April 10, 7 p.m.

125th Anniversary Signature Event

The Georgia Aquarium

Tuesday, April 11, 10 a.m. - Noon

Founders Day Convocation

Sisters Chapel


Founders Day Festival

Campus Oval

Spelman College:

Founded in 1881, Spelman College is the only historically Black college in the nation to be included on the U.S. News and World Report's list of top 75 "Best Liberal Arts Colleges — Undergraduate," 2005. Located in Atlanta, GA, this private, historically Black women's college boasts outstanding alumnae, including Children's Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman; U.S. Foreign Service Director Ruth Davis; authors Tina McElroy Ansa and Pearl Cleage and actress LaTanya Richardson. More than 83 percent of the full-time faculty members have Ph.D.s or other terminal degrees and the student-faculty ratio is 12:1. Annually, nearly one-third of Spelman students receive degrees in the sciences. The students number more than 2,186 and represent 43 states and 34 foreign countries. For more information regarding Spelman College, visit: http://www.spelman.edu.

Media Contacts --A.J Johnson- 404-270-5892; Renita Mathis - 404-270-5013; and Bunnie Jackson-Ransom -404-505-8188


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Bunnie Jackson-ransom
Visit website