Tuesday, April 11, 2017

In The Basement of Friendship

On this date in 1881, Spelman College was founded in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta. Founded by two white teachers from New England, Sophia Packard and Harriet Giles, Spelman was originally known as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, and it’s the oldest private liberal arts college for black women in the United States. Packard and Giles founded the school with a gift of $100 from the First Baptist Church of Medford, Massachusetts. They had 11 students, many of them former slaves and most of them illiterate; by the end of the first term, they had 80 students. They went back to Massachusetts to try to get more money. There, they met John D. Rockefeller. He was impressed with their vision. His wife, Laura Spelman, and her family had long been involved in the abolitionist movement. Rockefeller donated generously to the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, and it was renamed Spelman Seminary — later College — in his wife’s honor.
-Writer's Almanac