Mixed Chicks – Black History Month – Johnnetta B. Cole

by Linda Ripoll in News on 17th February 2014


Today’s Black History woman of distinction is Johnetta B. Cole. The first African American female president of Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, Cole is a leading educator, cultural anthropologist and humanitarian. Born and raised in Florida, she is the granddaughter of Florida’s first black millionaire Abraham Lincoln Lewis. Her love of academics came early in life. She excelled in school and skipped several grades allowing her to apply to college at the age of 15. She initially enrolled at Fisk University but quickly transferred to Oberlin College where she completed her B.A. in Anthropology.

She attended graduate school at Northwestern University where she earned a Master’s Degree and PhD in Anthropology. Upon graduation, she began teaching at UCLA and directed the Black Studies program at Washington State University at Pullman. Soon thereafter she began teaching in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she also served as provost of undergraduate education for two years.

She served as Spelman’s first African American female president from 1987-1997 where she brought the school into the public spotlight highlighting its prestigious stance within the mainstream academic and HBCU community.

She currently serves as the director the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art.

We celebrate this accomplished, talented and highly driven woman who has defied all odds and created a legacy of excellence.