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Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole

Dr. Cole’s biography

Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole

Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole

Before assuming her current position, Johnnetta Cole had a long and distinguished career as an educator and humanitarian. Through her work as a college president, university professor and through her published works, speeches and community service she has consistently addressed racial, gender, and all other forms of inequality.

Dr. Cole served as president of Spelman College and Bennett College for Women. She is the only person to have served as president of these 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.


Around Town, Around the World

“Rhythms Changing America ” — a discussion and concert exploring the links between Africa and Jazz — America’s original music.

Watch as Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Director of the National African Art Museum, talks with National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Master Randy Weston and historian Wayne Chandler, author of Ancient Future, about “Africa and Jazz,” uncovering stories and images of Africa’s roots in America’s history through jazz, other musical genres and social/cultural norms that have transformed the nation.

Part one: Interview

Part two: Concert


Director’s Discussion Series

With Jill Scott

Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art was in conversation with Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, New York Times bestselling poet and critically acclaimed actress Jill Scott as part of Cole’s Director’s Discussion Series. The event was held Friday, Aug. 9, at the Rasmuson Theater in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

With Maya Angelou

Watch and listen to NMAfA Director Johnnetta Betsch Cole in conversation with Maya Angelou.

The conversation took place at the National Museum of American Indian on Friday, February 1, 2013 as part of the National Museum of African Art’s Director’s Discussion Series.

With Marcus Samuelsson

Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole hosted celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson for the second edition of the National Museum of African Art’s Director’s Discussion Series on Friday, July 27 at the Hirshhorn Museum. We are delighted so many of you were able to attend. Please enjoy some photographs from the discussion.

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With Kwame Anthony Appiah

Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director of the National Museum of African Art sits with acclaimed philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (Princeton University) to discuss and interrogate the category of race and the future of museums. Appiah shares his personal reflections and philosophical investigations on race and considers notions of cultural identity and shared humanity.

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Smithsonian's Johnnetta Betsch Cole Named on Washingtonian Magazine's List of Washington DC's 100 Most Powerful Women 2011

For the second year in succession, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art Director Johnnetta Betsch Cole was named on Washingtonian magazine’s list of the 100 powerful female leaders in Washington DC. The awards luncheon took place on Friday, October 8, at the St. Regis Hotel in North West Washington DC.

Washingtonian magazine’s list of the top 100 powerful women honors and celebrates the accomplishments of women who have made it to the top of their fields. The list includes creative thinkers and innovators in the arts, education, sciences and humanities, business, health and medicine, religion and law.

Cole joins an illustrious and select band of fellow honorees including Donna Edwards, US congresswoman, Teresa Chambers, chief of the US park police, Valerie Ervin, Montgomery County Md. Council president, Janet Howell, Democratic Virginia state senator, Cathy Lanier, chief of the Washington police department, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington delegate to congress, Ingrid Turner, chair of Prince George’s County Md. council, Marion C. Blakey, president and CEO, Aerospace Industries Association.

Awardees were asked to choose a woman to accompany them to the luncheon with “talent and tenacity” that Washingtonian magazine should watch for in the future. Dr. Cole chose Nicole Shivers, Education Specialist at the National Museum of African Art.

The Constituency for Africa Host Reception at the National Museum of African Art to Welcome the African Union

From left to right: Ambassador Michael A. Battle, United States Ambassador to the African Union; Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Director the National Museum of African Art; Ambassador Ronald Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative, His Excellency Dr. Jean Ping, Chair of the African Union Commission, Melvin Foote, President, The Constituency for Africa, Rosa Whitaker, President and CEO of The Whitaker Group and Her Excellency, Ambassador Amina Salum Ali, Permanent Representative of the African Union to the United States.

From left to right:
Ambassador Michael A. Battle, United States Ambassador to the African Union; Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Director the National Museum of African Art; Ambassador Ronald Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative, His Excellency Dr. Jean Ping, Chair of the African Union Commission, Melvin Foote, President, The Constituency for Africa, Rosa Whitaker, President and CEO of The Whitaker Group and Her Excellency, Ambassador Amina Salum Ali, Permanent Representative of the African Union to the United States.

The Constituency for Africa hosted a reception to welcome the African Union to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, at the National Museum of African Art on the occasion of the second annual United States-African Union High Level Bilateral Meetings.

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Director of the National Museum of African Art welcomed everyone and gave opening remarks.

Melvin P. Foote, President and CEO of the Constituency for Africa, said of the reception, “We were particularly pleased to be able to host our guests at the National Museum of African Art and to be surrounded by works of art showcasing the beauty, power and diversity of African culture,” continued Foote.

Distinguished guests on the night included His Excellency Dr. Jean Ping, Chair of the African Union Commission, Ambassador Ronald Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative; Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the Unites States Agency for International Development; Ambassador Michael A. Battle, United States Ambassador to the African Union; and Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Dr. Ping and Ambassador Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative, both received awards from the Constituency for Africa for their commitment to advancing the positive promotion of a vibrant relationship between the people of Africa, the diaspora and the people of the United States.

Dr. Cole, on the airwaves

Interview with Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole and curator Karen Milbourne on the “Africa Now” show Pacifica radio (WPFW 89.3FM) with host Mwiza Munthali.

Host Mwiza Munthali speaks with Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director of the National Museum of African Art, and Karen Milbourne, curator about the museum’s exciting new exhibition African Mosaic: A Decade of Collecting and other upcoming programs.

NPR interview with Dr. Johnetta Betsch Cole and host of “Tell me More” Michel Martin

African Mosaic, the newest exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, includes modern and contemporary, popular and traditional works. Host Michel Martin speaks with Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director of the National Museum of African Art, about the collection as well as her first year at the helm.
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Dr. Cole Mistress of Ceremonies at Congressional Black Caucus Chairs' Reception

On Thursday 16, September Dr. Cole served as mistress of ceremonies for this year’s Congressional Black Caucus Foundation opening ceremony titled, “The Celebration of 40 Years of Leadership” at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. The event provided an opportunity to also honor Congresswoman Barbara Lee for her tireless work in public service.

Among the 300 guests in attendance were Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner and U.S. Army General William “Kip” Ward. The event also brought together members of Congress and the diplomatic corp.

Dr Cole stated, “You know who Congresswoman Barbara Lee is, what she stands for and what she continues to accomplish as she represents California’s ninth congressional district, and indeed as she advocates for the rights of all of us no matter where we come from.”

Dr. Cole also thanked Donald Payne for his tireless work for Africa. In her remarks, Dr Cole said, “What a privilege it is to present the Congressman who is often referred to as Mr. Africa, and well he should be – for Congressman Donald Payne is the American democratic politician who has consistently and effectively led the struggle in Congress for appropriate support of the people of the continent that is the cradle of humanity.”

Renowned soul artist Goapele performed a selection of her songs throughout the night.

NMAfA Director Johnnetta B. Cole Offers Remarks at Congressional Black Caucus Brain Trust

Congressman Donald M. Payne hosted the Foreign Affairs Brain Trust at the Washington Convention Center on September 17, 2010. Dr. Cole was invited to offer special remarks alongside Congressman Payne, Rajiv Shah of USAID, Reed Kramer of AllAfrica.com and Luis Moreno Ocampo of the International Criminal Court. The Congressman was honored to welcome President Salva Kiir, Government of Southern Sudan, who presented the keynote address.

The conference, which ran throughout the morning, was organized to coincide with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 40th Annual Legislative Conference. The designated topic was “Africa Forging Ahead: Meeting the Millennium Development Goals, Justice, Accountability & the Rold of U.S. Policy.” A distinguished group of panelists were on hand to consider the remarks, and an invitation-only group of 300 were in attendance.

Keynote Speaker

Salva Kiir, president of the Government of Southern Sudan, will present a special keynote address.

Remarks

Johnnetta Cole, Director, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Reed Kramer, CEO, AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com)

Luis Moreno Ocampo, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court

Panelists

Ebraham Rasool, South African Ambassador to the United States

AbdulKareem Jama, Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor, President of Somalia

Darius Mans, President of Africare

Dikembe Mutombo, President and Chairman of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation

Cassandra Butts, Senior Advisor, Milllennium Challenge Corporation

John McArthur, CEO, Millennium Promise

John Prendergast, Co-Founder, Enough Project

Walter Jones, Executive Director, African Development Bank

Read the Twitter feed from the event

Dr. Cole honored to receive prestigious award

On Wednesday, September 15, 2010, at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C., Dr. Cole was among the proud recipients of the African American Women in Excellence award, presented by publishing company Who’s Who.

During the ceremony Who’s Who Publishing Company, which publishes the nation’s largest annual directory focusing on the African-American market, unveiled its highly anticipated second edition of Who’s Who In Black Washington, D.C.

In addition to the nearly 300 honorees listed in the new edition, master of ceremonies Guy Lambert of WPGC 95.5 FM welcomed dignitaries and local leaders. With a foreword penned by Alexis Herman, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, the new edition of Who’s Who particularly celebrates African-American Women of Excellence. At the ceremony, other recipients included Judge Inez Smith Reid and Artis Hampshire-Cowan, as well as Emerging Leaders Under 40. Who’s Who also paid tribute to First Lady Michelle Obama and the late Dr. Dorothy Height.

Commenting at the event, Carter D. Womack, associate publisher for Who’s Who In Black Washington, D.C.�, stated, “I am extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to revisit Washington, D.C., with this second edition. The women throughout this community have accomplished successful careers and continue to serve as role models to our female youth. Thank you for your contributions.”

Notes to editors

1. Who’s Who Publishing Company, subsidiary of Real Times Media, was founded in 1989 and highlights the achievements of African Americans while providing a valuable resource and networking guide for the entire community. Real Times Media Inc. is dedicated to sustaining its presence as the leading source of African-American-related news, entertainment and lifestyle information.

2. For Press enquiries, including interview bids, please contact Edward Burke, Public Affairs Specialist, The Smithsonian Museum of African Art. Tel: 202 633 4660

Understanding African Art

Nearly half a century ago, a man named Warren Robbins opened his basement gallery of African art to the public. Today, that underground exhibition is the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. The museum is often overshadowed by better-known offerings on the Mall, but it’s about to launch its most ambitious exhibition ever. We talk with its new leader, former Spelman College President Johnnetta B. Cole.

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