Congressman David Scott Congratulates Spelman College on its 125th Anniversary
Sep 6 -
Mr. Speaker, thank you very much to my distinguished colleague from Chicago, Congressman Davis; my distinguished colleague and Congressman from Georgia, JOHN LEWIS; to my distinguished colleagues from Georgia, Mr. Kingston, Dr. Price. I appreciate so much having this opportunity, and I am also pleased to join with my colleague Mr. Gingrey.
I am honored on this day to recognize one of our Nation's most prestigious institutions of higher learning, and that is indeed Spelman College. Singularly devoted to the education of women, Spelman College now celebrates its 125th anniversary this year.
What an extraordinary story this is, Mr. Speaker, because when you tell the story of Spelman, you are telling a truly genuine American story that represents the heart and soul of what America is all about.
Spelman College is a private and historically black college that opened its doors less than two full decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the ratification of the 13th amendment, and out of necessity, and it was necessary to provide educational opportunities for black women in the south when none existed.
To get the proper perspective on this, Mr. Speaker, we must understand that it was not long, just a few years before this, when the law of the land was not to allow African Americans to even read a book. Just think of that: In this country, it was against the law for African Americans to even learn to read.
It is within this backdrop that Spelman College stepped forward.
Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles founded Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, naming it first the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary. It began as a comprehensive academy that provided education for women from elementary school all the way through to college. It was renamed Spelman Seminary in 1884 and underwent one final change, becoming Spelman College in 1924.
Let me stop for a moment to give the importance of this name Spelman. It originated from a member of the distinguished Rockefeller family. For without John D. Rockefeller, it can arguably be said that there would have been no Spelman.
Reflecting on the early relationship forged by this institution's founders, it was a unique relationship with John D. Rockefeller himself who provided necessary resources that ensured the longevity of this college. So as we celebrate the 125th anniversary of Spelman College, let us pay direct homage to the Rockefeller family, without whom this college would not have been.
The academic achievements of its students and the rigor of its academic programs have brought numerous honors to this private college. Spelman was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa honor society in 1998, one of only four historically black colleges and universities to receive such an honor. In 2003, Spelman was named one of six institutions to receive a $4.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities to eliminate health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities.
They put together a health and wellness initiative that set the standard for academic institutions' outreach to the community to improve health care. Spelman College did that.
Throughout its history, Spelman's campus has grown, reflecting the addition of new programs and the strengthening of its renowned liberal arts program. A new academic center that houses several departments, a museum and the college archives resulted from a $20 million donation from Bill and Camille Cosby.
Indeed, an institution lives in the hearts and minds of the people who inhabit it, and Spelman's many accomplished graduates include the founder of the Children's Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman; actress Esther Rolle; Pulitzer Prize novelist Alice Walker; and writer, Pearl Cleage.
Many distinguished presidents have been at its helm, notably Dr. Johnetta Cole, the institution's first black female president and current president of Bennett College; Dr. Audrey Manley, former deputy Surgeon General; and current president, Dr. Beverly Tatum, administrator and clinical psychologist.
What a great day this is, Mr. Speaker, for us to be able to stand here in this wonderful country and pay homage to Spelman College on its 125th anniversary. What a distinguished institution, and we are proud of the great service that it has given to African Americans for sure, but most definitely to this great Nation of America and the world.