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Speeches and Writings

Equality: The Inaugural Address

Delivered by Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.,
10th President of Spelman College
Saturday, April 9, 2016
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Rosalind Brewer, Ronda Stryker, Mya Havard, Dr. Celeste Watkins Hayes, and all of the members of the Spelman College Board of Trustees: Last year this time, you elected me the 10th president of Spelman College. I accept this presidential medallion now as a symbol of the trust and authority you have vested in me.

Dr. Tatum, Dr. Cole, and Dr. Manley: I accept this medallion as a symbol of the nine past presidents. Your presidential leadership was as sterling and as full of grace as it was determined and purposeful. It is a privilege to follow in your footsteps.

My colleagues of the AUC: Serving with you, stewards of our future leaders, is an honor.

Dr. Kathleen Phillips-Lewis: The faculty of Spelman exhibit a love of excellence that is exceeded only by the joyfulness of their commitment to their students.

Ms. Demetria Holloway: Thank you for your kind words on behalf of the Spelman staff. The devotion and caring of Spelman College’s outstanding staff is evident everywhere you turn on campus.

Dr. Daphne Smith: To travel the country meeting Spelman alumnae, in Harlem or Oakland, Detroit or Philadelphia, Los Angeles or Louisville, is to be swept up in the fierce Spelman spirit of sisterhood. Thank you for your leadership of our national alumnae association.

Zarinah Mustafa: Your leadership of the Student Government Association this year has brilliantly exemplified the wisdom, honesty and fearlessness of the Spelman women you lead.

My friends colleagues and fellow foot soldiers — Thelma Golden, Spike Lee, Alfre Woodard, and Dr. Freeman Hrabowski: In the ongoing fight for equality, and in your life’s work, you have carved out the necessary spaces that press our men and women to create and think boldly, excel and soar. You honor this occasion with your presence.

Delegates from colleges and universities across the country who join me in the common purpose of educating our country’s next generation of leaders: Welcome.

Family and friends, I could not have arrived at this moment without your love and support. I am grateful.

My sons, you are my heroes. You have built lives full of devotion to your families, your country and your work with intelligence and integrity. I admire you and love you dearly.

My parents, Harvey and Elaine Schmidt are no longer on this earth, but they taught me about family and commitment to something bigger than myself; and I feel their presence as if they were sitting in the front row.

George, has been my best friend, presidential adviser, confidante, running buddy, the wisest man I have ever met and love of my life for more than 50 years. Even as you have been my ballast and compass, you have never stopped challenging me to explore further, reach higher, or try a more challenging ski run and I love you for it. 

Last fall, I had a transformative experience with members of my Spelman community. As many of you know by now, I invited Spelman students and a half dozen faculty and staff to come together for a shared reading experience. About 30 women from all classes and all disciplines joined the group. Our common text — Ronald Chernow’s biography,
Alexander Hamilton and if you attended the reading session and did the writing assignments, you got to go to New York to see the Broadway musical, "Hamilton.'

On several evenings last fall, we gathered in Reynolds Cottage, the president’s residence, to discuss the book and discuss the life of Hamilton. One of the founding fathers, Hamilton was an upstart immigrant from the Caribbean who made his way to the colonies, and on the eve of the American Revolution, changed the course of history. 

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