MIT Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee

35th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast Celebration
February 5, 2009

"Yes We Must: Achieve Diversity Through Leadership"


photo of Johnnetta Betsch Cole

Johnnetta Betsch Cole

Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole has a long and distinguished career as an educator and humanitarian. Her work as a college professor and president, her published works, her speeches and her community service consistently address issues of racial, gender and all other forms of discrimination. Much of her work in the interest of equality and social justice is now centered in her role as the Chair of the Board of the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and Inclusion Institute, founded at Bennett College for Women.

Dr. Cole is President emerita of Bennett College for Women and Spelman College. She is the only individual to have served as the president of the two historically Black colleges for women in the United States. She is also Professor emerita of Emory University from which she retired as Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women’s Studies and African American Studies.

Dr. Cole began her college studies at Fisk University and completed her undergraduate studies at Oberlin College. She earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Northwestern University. Her career as a college and university professor and administrator spans four decades. Dr. Cole made history in 1987 when she became the first African American woman to serve as president of Spelman College. From 2004 to 2006, she was the first person of color to serve as the chair of the Board of United Way of America.