March 28, 2023

Spelman Community,

We are pleased to share a recent high honor for Spelman College President Emerita Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Ph.D. President Joseph R. Biden presented Dr. Cole with a 2021 National Humanities Medal on March 21, 2023, at the White House award ceremony for the 2021 National Humanities Medals.

The White House Citation recognizes Dr. Cole "for being a celebrated leader of sanctuaries of higher learning and culture. A scholar, anthropologist, and academic pace-setter," as well as how her "pioneering work about the on-going contributions of Afro-Latin, Caribbean, and African communities have advanced American understanding of Black culture and the necessity and power of racial inclusion in the Nation."

We invite you to view the announcement of this milestone moment here.

According to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the medal "honors an individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history or literature, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources.

Other recipients of the 2021 National Humanities Medal included award-winning poet and author Richard Blanco
, social historian and academic leader Earl Lewis, Native American studies educator Henrietta Mann, and advocate and Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) founder Bryan Stevenson, among others.

In 1987, Dr. Cole made history – becoming Spelman College's seventh president and the first Black woman to lead the College.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Cole on this prestigious honor.


Helene D. Gayle, M.D., MPH
President, Spelman College

Office of the President
350 Spelman Lane
Atlanta, GA 30314
Phone: 404-270-5001
Fax: 404-270-5010

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