As the global leader of the liberal arts education of black women, Spelman College is keen on its tremendous responsibility to educate and empower the next generation of leaders and innovators.
To that end, in a press release provided to The Root, the historically black college announced a matching gift of up to $2 million from philanthropist Jon Stryker to create a chair in queer studies. The chair is the first of its kind and is named after celebrated poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde. It will be attached to the Comparative Women’s Studies Program housed at Spelman’s Women’s Research and Resource Center.
“Spelman College has long been at the forefront of LGBTQ inclusion and education among HBCUs,” Stryker said in a statement to The Root. “By supporting this chair, the goal is to engage and empower the next generation of LGBTQ advocates to create a better world.”
“A major theme of Spelman’s strategic plan is ‘elevating the Spelman Difference,’ that is creating opportunities to recruit and retain the kind of excellent faculty who are the hallmark of Spelman excellence,” Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman, said in a statement to The Root. “A chaired professorship in Queer Studies enables the College to build on one of its strengths and that is the Spelman’s educational inclusiveness, spearheaded by the Women’s Research and Resource Center under the stellar direction of Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall. Spelman’s Women’s Center has been and continues to be a pioneering leader in advancing scholarship in the area of Queer Studies. Jon Stryker’s generous contribution to further his commitment to LGBTQ inclusion and education will allow Spelman students to deepen their understanding around the study of sexuality and gender. We are honored to name the chair after the literary luminary and fierce activist, Audre Lorde.”
In being the only HBCU in the country with a queer studies program, the chair will provide a platform to “direct community-wide conversations and advocacy around queer issues,” according to Forbes.
“The more that people understand queer history and LGBTQ issues, the more likely they are to accept and support the LGBTQ community,” Stryker told Forbes. “By empowering and educating the next generation, we can help make a future where LGBTQ people have full and equal protections under the law.”