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Herschelle Sullivan Challenor, C'60, Played a Significant Role in the Atlanta Student Movement

March 2016

Herschelle Sullivan Challenor Herschelle Sullivan Challenor, Ph.D., played a significant role in the Atlanta Student Movement, participated in the October 1960 sit-in at Rich’s department store, and was subsequently arrested with Martin Luther King Jr.

In a handwritten letter penned while King was in Fulton County jail, he praised the women protesters, including Chanellor, who were arrested with him. He acknowledged them for their ‘‘intrepid courage, [their] quiet dignity, and [their] undaunted faith in the power of nonviolence.’’ King continued, ‘‘It is inspiring enough to see the fellows willingly accepting jail rather than bail, but when young ladies are willing to accept this type of self suffering for the cause of freedom it is both majestic and sublime’’ (Papers 5:528).

Chanellor and Morehouse student Lonnie King served as co-chairs of the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights which required participants in the Atlanta Student Movement to sign an oath of non-violence. The committee was also responsible for the Appeal for Human Rights document written by Sullivan's classmate, Rosyln Pope.

Born on October 5, 1938 in Atlanta, Georgia, Chanellor received a Bachelor of Arts from Spelman College, a Master of Arts from Johns Hopkins University, and a doctorate from Columbia University.

After obtaining her doctorate from Columbia, Challenor held a number of academic positions, including assistant professor in the Political Science Department of Brooklyn College (1969 to 1972), congressional fellow for the American Political Science Association (1972 to 1973), and program officer for the Diversity Education and Research Ford Foundation (1973 to 1975). In 1978, she became the director of the United Nations Educational Science and Cultural Organization Washington Liaison Office, a position she held until 1993. That same year, she became dean of Clark Atlanta University’s School of Public and International Affairs.

She has received numerous honors recognizing her work as an educator and activist, including a nomination by President Bill Clinton to the National Security Education Board in August 1994. Spelman College also awarded her an honorary degree.

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