Spelman College is marking its 140-year anniversary through a series of events designed to celebrate its rich history and legacy.

This year’s theme, Undaunted: Founders Day @ Spelman, will allow alumnae and friends of the institution to celebrate the College’s long-standing commitment to academic excellence and service to others through a series of virtual events

“Founded in 1881, in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church, one of the largest and most influential Black congregations in Atlanta, Spelman College has a long standing commitment to creating pathways for women through education,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “Although circumstances require that we spend this landmark year at a distance, we are looking forward to celebrating the legacy, established by our founders, Sophia B. Packard, Harriet B. Giles, and the 10 women and one girl, who placed their faith in a school that would change their lives and change the world.”

The week-long event officially kicked-off on April 8, on the Zoom platform with the annual Founders Day History and Traditions Convocation, featuring editor, author and public speaker Wanda Smalls Lloyd, C’71, in conversation with her classmate and best-selling author, Tina McElroy Ansa, C’71. During the event, the alumnae will discuss their co-authored anthology, “Meeting at the Table: African-American Women Write on Race, Culture and Community.”

The week will closed out on Sunday with the 140th Founders Day Convocation.

“While we mainly remain physically distant, we are bringing the ceremonies and events to our community globally through virtual formats, while upholding our traditions,” said Alyson Shumpert Dorsey, C’2002, senior alumnae programs manager in the Office of Alumnae Engagement. “This year’s theme, Undaunted: Founders Day @ Spelman, is a testament to the spirit in which Spelman was founded.”

In spring of 1879, New England teachers and missionaries, Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles, journeyed south to study living conditions among the recently enslaved. Appalled by what they found, particularly the lack of educational opportunities for women, they pledged to return to the South to open a school for Black women and girls. Packard and Giles returned to Georgia, and with an offer to use the basement of Friendship Baptist Church, opened the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary on April 11, 1881.

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