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Equality: The Inaugural Address - Page 4

Delivered by Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.,
10th President of Spelman College
Saturday, April 9, 2016
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MSC2For the past 135 years, Spelman has been more than a school. Spelman College has been a movement (my apologies to Dr. Ruth Simmons, who has used this phrase with another school).

Black Lives Matter. Black lives always matter here and because they matter, we have -- for 135 years -- sustained a fervent coalition of faith and purpose and will.

Admission is granted to our circle of faith to all true believers — white and Black, and brown and yellow; men and women, straight, gay and transgender; rich and poor; Christian, Jewish, Muslim -- all faiths; north and south, east and west, spanning the seven continents.

To reach the destination of equality, our country needs Spelman College. It needs our circle of faith. We need the circles of faith that are the AUC and University of Maryland Baltimore County, and cultural institutions like the Studio Museum in Harlem and men and women at the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and bold artists willing to speak truth artfully and persuasively to power.

I worked in higher education for many years before I retired in 2014. Some of my NYU colleagues are here today. In the 23 years that I served as dean at the Tisch School of the Arts, I came to believe that while there is certainly a part of education that is about the acquisition of skills and competencies and expertise in a subject area, there is also a part of education that is about love.

There is a part of education that cares about each and every student. There is that part of education that even as it makes demands, it deeply desires that the student sitting in front of you succeeds. I see the love on this campus every day -- a deep abiding love on the part of Spelman faculty, and staff; students, administrators, trustees, alumnae, friends and supporters. I see a love that is radiantly alive.

This afternoon, I want to leave you with a symbol of that radiant aliveness. When you came into the hall today, you received a lapel pin. These pins were designed, prototyped and the process documented by first-year Spelman student Rahni Bell, along with art and art history faculty members Joe Bigley, Robert Hamilton; Angela Taylor, and our computer science faculty member, Jerry Volcy, who holds the Brown, Simmons Chair in Computer Science and is director of our new Innovation Lab.

A group of Spelman women worked diligently to assemble 1,000 of these lapel pins. Let me pause here to thank the following women for the hours of work they contributed: Kiyah Bryant, Shakira Wilds, Jhanae Askew, Naida Hill, Breanna Rice, Rahni Bel, Eiloenai E. Rufen-Blanchette, Trisha Barton, Elizabeth Sengoba, Raegan J. Brown, Kathryn Goodgame, Adesuwa Joseph, Brygette Bagley, and Ta’sha Charles. This, by the way, is an example of STEA; but more importantly, it is a symbol of the meaning of Spelman.

Now, may I ask that we have the lights dimmed. On your lapel pin is a yellow tab. At the count of three, I want you to pull that tab. One, two, three.

Look around you. You can see the light.

When I walk the campus of Spelman College, I see the light.
I see the light in the eyes of every woman I meet.
I see the light.
I see the light of her promise.
I see the light of our faith in her.
I see the light of our belief in her.
I see the light.

Spelman women you are our beacons.
I see the light in you and a fierce determination fills my heart today.
I see the light in you and I know that it will lead you, lead me, lead us.
I see the light and I know that we are already on our way undaunted to unimaginable new heights.

Thank you. God Bless you.

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