Daring to Educate: The Legacy of the Early Spelman College Presidents

Yolanda L Watson (Author) Sheila T Gregory (Author)
& 2 more


While President Emerita Johnnetta B. Cole is credited with propelling Spelman College (the oldest historically Black womens' college) to national prominence, little is generally known about the strong academic foundation and legacy she inherited. Contrary to popular belief, the first four presidents of Spelman (including its two co-founders) were White women who led the early development of the College, armed with the belief that former slaves and free Black women should and could receive a college-level education.

This book presents the history of Spelman's foundation through the tenure of its fourth president, Florence M. Read, which ended in 1953. This compelling story is brought up to date by the contributions of Spelman's current president, Beverly Daniel Tatum, and by Johnnetta B. Cole.

The book chronicles how the vision each of these women presidents, and their response to changing social forces, both profoundly shaped Spelman's curriculum and influenced the lives and minds of thousands of young Black women. The authors trace the evolution of Spelman from its beginning-when the founders, aware of the limited occupations open to its graduates, strove to uplift the Black race by providing an academic education to disenfranchised Black women while also providing training for available careers--to the fifties when the college became an exemplar of liberal arts education in the South.

This book fills a void in the history of Black women in higher education. It will appeal to a wide readership interested in women's studies, Black history and the history of higher education in general.

Product Details

Stylus Publishing (VA)
Publish Date
June 29, 2005
5.76 X 0.69 X 8.42 inches | 0.66 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Yolanda L. Watson is Managing Partner, Principal Consultant and Senior Researcher, Strategic Consulting Solutions, in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Sheila T. Gregory is Associate Professor, Higher Education and Educational Leadership, at Clark Atlanta University School of Education.
Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD, is president emerita of Spelman College and in 2014 received the Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology, the highest honor presented by the American Psychological Association. She is also the author of the forthcoming "Why Are All the Black Kids Still Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race" (Basic Books).
Johnnetta B. Cole is the current president of Bennett College and President Emerita of Spelman College.


"This text aptly details the remarkable accomplishment of Spelman's founders. Watson and Gregory spin a tale of innovation and triumph while simultaneously adding to the scholarship of higher education.

Through an analysis of the curricular changes brought by each president, coupled with the important social and political context that surrounded those presidencies, this book presents a thoughtful discussion on the impact of a powerful woman's vision on the lives of other women."--from the Foreword by Johnnetta B. Cole, President of Bennett College and seventh President of Spelman College