Distributed February 11, 2002
For Immediate Release

News Service Contact: Mary Jo Curtis

Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture

Johnnetta Cole to speak on King’s life and legacy Feb. 20

Johnnetta B. Cole, president emerita of Spelman College, will present “The Life and Work of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Old Lessons for a New Day,” this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture, on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2002, at noon in the Salomon Center for Teaching.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Johnnetta B. Cole will give the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture – titled “The Life and Work of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Old Lessons for a New Day” – on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2002, at noon in the Richard and Edna Salomon Center for Teaching.

Cole is president emerita of Spelman College and professor emerita at Emory University, from which she recently retired as Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women’s Studies and African American Studies. Her distinguished career as a college and university teacher and administrator spans 37 years. A graduate of Oberlin College, she earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Northwestern University before embarking on a career of teaching and research in cultural anthropology, African American studies and women’s studies.

In 1987, Cole made history by becoming the first African American woman to serve as president of Spelman College. At her inauguration, Bill and Camille Cosby made a $20-million donation to the college, at that time the largest single gift from individuals to any historically black college or university. Under Cole’s leadership, Spelman received a number-one ranking from U.S. News and World Report in its 1992 “Best College Buys” issue. That same year, Cole was named to President-elect Bill Clinton’s transition team as cluster coordinator for education, labor, and the arts and humanities.

After 10 years at Spelman, Cole returned to teaching at Emory University. In 1998 she was appointed by President Clinton to the 11-member Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History. She is currently active in numerous community and civic organizations, including the Carter Center, the TransAfrica Forum and the United Way of Metro Atlanta. She is a member of the National Council of Negro Women and serves on the board of directors of Coca-Cola Enterprises and Merck & Co. Inc.; she is also a trustee of Gallaudet University and the Rockefeller Foundation.

In addition to 47 honorary degrees, Cole has received numerous awards, including the TransAfrica Forum Global Public Service Award, the Dorothy I. Height Dreammaker Award, the Radcliffe Medal and the 1999 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal. Most recently she received the Alexis de Tocqueville Award for community service from United Way of America.

The Salomon Center is located on The College Green. The lecture is open to the public, and admission is free. For more information, call (401) 863-2474.