By Chinwe Ohanele, Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property (Originally published on michelsonip.com)
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Unite was an incredible conference running from July 17 through July 20 in Atlanta Georgia that brought together educators from over 47 historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and over 1000 attendees dedicated to the success of Black students.
The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property (Michelson IP) was honored to both sponsor the conference and facilitate “Democratizing IP Education.” The panel was in partnership with Dr. Muhsinah Morris of Morehouse College, Professor Tuneen Chisohlm of Howard University School of Law and Kene Turner of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
Day One: Dr. Johnnetta Cole on Supporting Black Students in Higher Education
On the first night of UNCF, the audience was enlivened by Dr. Johnnetta Cole, former president of Spelman College and Bennett College, the only two HBCUs for Black women in the U.S. Ushered into the hall by West African drummers, in the style a mother or female elder is ushered into a celebration, Dr. Cole set the stage for the first annual commencement address to the UNCF Unite audience.
Once on stage, she joyfully danced and pantomimed a lovely call and response with the musicians who mimicked the call and response that would occur during her riveting speech. Before a single word was said, it was evident that we were in the presence of a master, a woman who understood the impact and power of the past, the significance of the present and the need to connect them all to build towards a more prosperous future. At times invoking great leaders like Maya Angelou and Booker T. Washington, at other times deferring to meaningful insights gleaned from her colleagues and fellow HBCU presidents, Dr. Cole’s commencement address was akin to a powerful preacher’s Sunday sermon, trading in deep truth, unflinching clarity, and overwhelming love for her community.
Read more about the UNCF Unite Conference here.
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