Dr. Johnetta Betsch Cole, former president of Spelman and Bennett Colleges and a descendant of Anna and Zaphaniah Kingsley, gave the keynote speech at the eleventh annual Kingsley Heritage Celebration at Kingsley Plantation at Timucuan last month.
Dr. Coleâs presentation was entitled âSankofa: Looking Back to Go Forward.â An anthropologist by training, Cole used the concept of sankofa during her speech. Sankofa is a Adinkra symbol of the Ga-speaking people of Ghana in West Africa. The word is tied to the idea that we need to know our past in order to move forward and understand who we are as a culture today.
Cole assumed the role of director of the Smithsonianâs National Museum of African Art on March 2nd. She has served on that museumâs scholarly advisory board since the museum was created, and has worked with a number of Smithsonian programs since the mid-1980s.
Cole took time after her keynote address to speak privately with girls from the âPretty Is As Pretty Doesâ club, an enrichment program that services fifth grade girls at TEAM UP, an afterschool program of Communities In Schools of Jacksonville, Inc. at Reynolds Lane Elementary. The girls have been studying the life of Dr. Cole as a black female role model because she embodies the principal that you can be anything you determine in your mind to be.
The event also featured a musical presentation by the choir from Edward Waters College, a historically black college in Jacksonville, Florida.