Academy of Achievement Logo
Achiever Gallery
  The Arts
   + [ Public Service ]
  Science & Exploration
  My Role Model
  Recommended Books
  Academy Careers
Keys to Success
Achievement Podcasts
About the Academy
For Teachers

Search the site

Academy Careers


If you like Johnnetta Cole's story, you might also like:
Rita Dove,
John Hennessy,
Susan Hockfield,
Wendy Kopp,
John Lewis,
Jessye Norman,
John Sexton and
Oprah Winfrey

Johnnetta Cole also appears in the videos:
The Content of Your Character: A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

Making a Better World: What is Your Responsibility to the Community?

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Johnnetta Cole in the Achievement Curriculum section:
Justice & Citizenship
Freedom & Justice
Black History Month

Related Links:
National Museum of African Art
Spelman College
Bennett College

Share This Page
  (Maximum 150 characters, 150 left)

Johnnetta Cole
Johnnetta Cole
Profile of Johnnetta Cole Biography of Johnnetta Cole Interview with Johnnetta Cole Johnnetta Cole Photo Gallery

Johnnetta Cole Profile

Past President of Spelman College

Print Johnnetta Cole Profile Print Profile

  Johnnetta Cole

"I pose that question to myself, why, in the 107 years of the history of this historically black college for women, there had not been an African-American woman president."

Ever since it was founded, Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia has been the nation's foremost institution of higher education specifically intended for African American women. Yet, for the first century of Spelman's existence, no African American woman had ever served as President of the College. Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole made history in 1987, when she was inaugurated as president of the school.

Long before taking charge at Spelman, Dr. Cole had already distinguished herself as an anthropologist, author, university professor and administrator, with a special interest in Afro-American, Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Her scholarly interest in African American culture began at an early age. Although she endured the indignities of racial segregation growing up in the South in the 1940s, her family instilled her with deep pride in her heritage. They had already had won a position of wealth and privilege in their community despite the obstacles placed in their path. As a child, she met such influential African Americans as Mary McLeod Bethune, and she studied the history of her people in a public library named for her own great-grandfather.

Dr. Cole has served on the boards of major corporations, chaired the Board of Trustees of the United Way and assisted President William J. Clinton in the formation of his administration, at the same time leading Spelman College to new heights of academic excellence. After a decade as President of Spelman, Dr. Cole served as President of the nation's other historically black college for women, Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. A longtime advisor to the Smithsonian Institution, she now serves as director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art.

This page last revised on Feb 10, 2009 12:09 EDT
How To Cite This Page