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Spelman College Ida B. Wells Distinguished Lecture Series

Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Distinguished Lecture and Performance Series

Lecture Series

The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Distinguished Lecture and Performance Series is coordinated by Mona T. Phillips, Ph.D., professor in the department of sociology and anthropology, and is housed in the Spelman College Social Justice Fellows Program directed by Cynthia Neal Spence, Ph.D., C’78.

Supported by the Andrew F. Mellon Foundation to promote interdisciplinarity as a core value of the College, the series is named for Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931), who used multiple analytical languages to confront the politics of the Black body as well as the complexities of full citizenship for Black women and men.

Each year’s theme not only provides an intellectual umbrella for the lectures, but for readings, events, panels and discussion groups throughout the year.

Visiting Scholar Program

Since 1956, the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s Visiting Scholar Program has been offering undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with some of America’s most distinguished scholars.  The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the institution by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students. 

The 13 men and women participating during 2015-2016 will visit 100 colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, spending two days on each campus and taking full part in the academic life of the institution.  They will meet informally with students and faculty members, participate in classroom discussions and seminars, and give a lecture open to the university/college community and the general public. 

Past Themes & Speakers


Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Hazel Carby, Spelman College Faculty and Students Explore Empire, Nation and the Citizen 

Students of two Spelman College English Department professors, Tarshia Stanley and Pushpa Parkekh, were in conversation with Hazel Carby, Ph.D., about Octavia Bulter's Bloodchild and post-colonial women's literature.

In addition to the classroom discussions, Dr. Carby delivered the keynote lecture, "Writing by Hand," and attended a luncheon with students and faculty representing majors from across the campus.


Theme:  "Stop Telling Stories:  A Year of Speaking" 

Professor Adrienne Davis, Washington University
Professor T. Lang, Spelman College  

View the Video


Theme: "'Black Holes and Geometry’:The Politics of Black Women's Bodies"

Professor Evelynn Hammonds, Harvard University
Professor Kimberle Crenshaw, UCLA
Professor Dorothy Roberts, University of Pennsylvania


Theme: "More than a Vote: Women's Struggle for Full Citizenship"

Professor Melissa Harris-Perry, Wake Forest University
Professor Angela Davis, University of California-Santa Cruz