July 19, 2020

Dear Spelman Community,

John Lewis loved Black people unconditionally and he loved justice just as much. With the death of the Georgia Congressman, the world has lost a valiant social justice warrior. On behalf of the trustees, faculty, students and staff of Spelman College, I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones.

Congressman Lewis brought his heart, body and soul to his life’s work. As a young man, he was a global ambassador for nonviolent protests as a path to eradicate injustice. As a congressman, he never wasted an opportunity to champion equity for all of his constituents. He never stopped fighting.

In honor of his life's work, Spelman College intends to name an endowed scholarship after the congressman. When funded, the scholarship will provide a one-time tuition contribution of $10K, which will be awarded every year to five
Social Justice Fellows. Led by Dr. Cynthia Neal Spence, C'78, Spelman’s Social Justice Fellows program is a living and learning programmatic initiative designed to create opportunities for a select group of Spelman women to make a choice to change the world through advocacy.

As we navigate today’s turbulent waters, we draw inspiration and courage for our challenges from the congressman’s decades of selfless sacrifice, ardent advocacy and steadfast commitment for not just racial equality, but equity for all.

Spelman was blessed to have him on our campus
to engage with our students, numerous times over the years. Just last spring when the College joined the UNCF in honoring congressional lawmakers who have served as true champions and strong advocates for HBCUs and their students, Congressman Lewis engaged in a candid conversation with our Social Justice Fellows, and encouraged them to stay vigilant in the fight for truth and righteousness.

He leaves behind an extraordinary civil rights legacy: organizing the March on Washington; challenging segregated interstate travel and pioneering new territory with voter registration as one of the original 13 Freedom Riders; co-founding the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; and using his voice to be an outspoken supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. He set a stellar example of how, in his words – getting into "good trouble" – in service of justice can transform our country and the world.

We believe the best way to honor Congressman Lewis is to lift up those who are carrying out his work.

In the spirit of Lewis and the countless others who dedicated their lives to the ongoing fight for civil rights in America, we invite you to join us for Spelman Speaks: a Series on Black Lives Matter and Social Justice, at 5 p.m. Tuesday, via Zoom.

This monthly town-hall style discussion series will create a space for our community-at-large to stay in dialogue as we continue to push for equity and equality within our local, national and global communities.

The Spelman community mourns his loss, celebrates his brave, radiant life and looks forward to the ways in which we can continue his legacy.

With sorrow,

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.
President, Spelman College


Office of the President
Phone: 404-270-5001

Fax: 404-270-5010

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