Today is the 130 anniversary of the founding of Spelman College, and African American woman’s college in Atlanta. As you may know, this is my alma mater; I will celebrate my reunion this year. Alma Mater literally translates to “nourishing mother.”
Since Silver Sparrow will be published in about six weeks, I am doing a lot of interviews. One question that comes up again and again is “How did you become a writer.” For me, this questions gets serious when I talk about my time at Spelman. Spelman is where I took my first creative writing class. Where I first learned to say, I am a writer.
Before I went to Spelman College, I was an invisible girl, average in every way. I knew that was “bright”, whatever that meant, but I never thought of myself as someone with something important to say. I knew that I enjoyed writing and always got good grades in English, but I didn’t really feel like a young woman on the verge.
Almost immediately after walking through the ornamental front gate, everything changed. All of a sudden, I was known for my writing! People were constantly asking for my opinion. I ran for editor of the school paper! I because the student-faculty liaison on the student government.
I tell people this story all the time and they poo-poo it. It wasn’t Spelman, they say, it was YOU! I am not downplaying my own role. I did work hard, but Spelman let me know that it was possible. Without this shift in my thinking– at such a crucial time in my developments– I know I would not be the woman I am today.
The picture you see above was painted for Spelman by Vanette Honeywood, who graduated from Spelman in 1972. Sadly, she passed away earlier this year. Ms. Honeywood was one of many alumnae whose names were always in the air, reminding us that black women who had stood where we were currently standing had gone one to do amazing things. Marian Wright Edleman, Alice Walker, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Pearl Cleage, Tina McElroy Ansa, Esther Rolle.. And many others.
Happy Birthday Spelman, from the woman I am, but especially from the girl I was in 1987. I never could have done it without you.

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