Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and actress/producer Alfre Woodard were among the arts, civic, business and education leaders who joined the Spelman College community to celebrate the inauguration of President Mary Schmidt Campbell
, Ph.D., on April 9 at the Georgia World Congress Center.
During her inaugural address, Dr. Campbell shared her goals to promote equality in the curriculum and the community, including the construction of a new fine arts building and developing partnerships to revitalize the nearby West End neighborhood.
Following her investiture, an Arts Celebration uplifted the inauguration’s equality theme through song, spoken word, drama and a collaborative dance performance choreographed and performed by Distinguished Visiting Scholar Dianne McIntyre
along with the Spelman College Glee Club
and the Urban Bush Women. Actress/producer LaTanya Richardson Jackson, C’74
, introduced playwright, poet and novelist Pearl Cleage
, C’71, who presented a scene from her play, “The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First One Hundred Years.”
The inauguration celebration began April 7 with a Founders Day convocation commemorating the College’s 135th year, followed by a campus celebration. On April 8, an all-day Faculty Symposium gathered scholars and civic leaders to discuss how Black women in Atlanta, Detroit and New Orleans are leading efforts to address community blight and displacement, environmental racism, and improve access to healthy food and clean water.
Also on April 8, award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee presented a screening of his new documentary, “2 Fists Up,” about student protests at the University of Missouri. The four-day event wrapped on April 10 with an Interfaith Service and message on faith, equality and prayer for the College’s 10th president by the Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts III, senior pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City. Pictured: Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell with Presidents Emeritae Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Beverly Daniel Tatum and Audrey Forbes Manley.
Equality: The Inaugural Address
Read/download the Inaugural Address.
The 2016 Inauguration Theme
Equality was the theme of the inauguration. Equality honors the legacy left by Harriet E. Giles and Sophia B. Packard, two women – abolitionists, teachers and Baptist missionaries – who came to Atlanta from Massachusetts 135 years ago and, in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church, started a school for recently freed Black women. Their school began with 10 women and one girl. As the number of aspiring students grew, as patrons from Atlanta and beyond joined an ever expanding circle of supporters, the school that started in a damp, dark basement became Spelman College, an institution synonymous with excellence.
Spelman, named after the family of the wife of John D. Rockefeller, the College's first major benefactor, produces leaders. Our women excel in every field imaginable, from Broadway producer to Fortune 500 CEO, from mayor of an American city to award-winning playwright, from college president to cancer researcher. Spelman women are in the habit of shattering glass ceilings and paving the way for generations to come.
The inauguration of Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell celebrated the enduring spirit and mission of Spelman's founding principles. Thank you for participating in this historic moment in the life of the College.