CONTACT: Elaine C. Ray, News Service (650) 723-7162;
Former Spelman head to give keynote during MLK celebration
Johnnetta B. Cole, former president of Spelman College, will give the keynote address during Stanford's week-long Martin Luther King Jr. celebration Jan. 11-18. Cole, who retired in June after serving as president for 10 years, will offer insights on civil rights, education, race and gender. Peter Gomes, a distinguished religious scholar at Harvard University, will visit campus during that week as well.
When Cole was appointed as Spelman's seventh president in 1987, she became the first African American woman to head the historically black institution for women. Known fondly as "Sister President," Cole increased Spelman's coffers and its profile. At her inauguration, Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille, gave $20 million to the college.
Before becoming president of Spelman, Cole was director of Latin American and Caribbean studies and a professor of anthropology at Hunter College in New York. She also has served as associate provost for undergraduate education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and as a member of President-elect Clinton's transition team. Currently on a year-long sabbatical, Cole will join the faculty of Emory University in the fall of 1998.
"We are extremely proud and excited about having Sis Prez join us this year as our keynoter in celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," said Morris Graves, acting director of African and African American studies, a sponsor of the celebration. "Dr. Cole's personal and professional life exemplifies the philosophy and teaching of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and we believe that her address will help in keeping his dream alive."
On Thursday, Jan. 15, at 11 a.m., Cole will be on hand in the Stanford Bookstore to sign copies of her new book, Dream the Boldest Dreams and Other Lessons of Life. She will give her keynote address at 8 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. On Friday, Jan. 16, she will be the Women's Center's first scholar in residence, participating in several events coordinated by the center and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender.
The theme of the King celebration, "Dream the Boldest Dream," was inspired by Cole's book. The week will begin Jan. 11 with an interfaith service in Memorial Church. Graves, Provost Condoleezza Rice and Winona Simms, director of Native American and Alaskan programs, will be among the speakers at that event. A cappella group Talisman will perform at the service. Other events will include open houses at the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project and the Black Community Services Center. There will be evening panel discussions in several residences and the annual birthday cake on White Plaza.
Gomes, a professor of divinity and minister of Memorial Church at Harvard, will speak at Stanford's public worship at 10 a.m. in Memorial Church on Jan. 18. He is the author of The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart, published in 1996.
By Elaine Ray