Spelman-Morehouse Convocation 2009
When and Where We Enter..Together
Speech given by President Beverly Daniel Tatum at the Spelman-Morehouse Convocation – August 22, 2009
Good Morning! Thank you, Dr. Franklin, for your warm welcome and gracious introduction. It is always a pleasure to be on stage in partnership with you, continuing the Spelman-Morehouse tradition of shared beginnings and mutual support. It is also a pleasure to gather together here to greet our newest students, Class of 2013, transfer students, and exchange students.
Students, it is delightful to see you all here – the women of Spelman and the men of Morehouse- what an exciting time it is for all of you!
Some of you know the Spelman-Morehouse tradition of shared beginnings and mutual support very personally – because you are part of what we like to call “Spel-house” families. I’m curious about that – let’s see, men of Morehouse, stand up if someone in your family attended Spelman. (Remain standing, if you would) Women of Spelman, stand up if someone in your family attended Morehouse. As you can see, the Spel-House tradition is alive and well here in King Chapel this morning!!
At Spelman, new students arrived on Saturday, August 15 and today marks the end of a full week of orientation – an orientation with the theme, “When and Where I Enter” – taken from a very powerful quote by Anna Julia Cooper. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with her legacy, Dr. Cooper was the pioneering African American author, educator and social activist who in the late nineteenth century advocated that the educational, moral and spiritual progress of Black women would be the force for change in Black communities across the nation and the world.
She wrote, “Only the Black woman can say, “when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and with suing or special patronage, then and there the whole…race enters with me.” It is a powerful quote, and of course, it has special meaning for us at Spelman because the understanding of the power of Black women to change our own lives – and the lives of those around us – is at the heart of the mission of Spelman College. For 128 years, we have opened our doors to women who had a burning desire to be educated, who had a passion to achieve, who had a vision for their own future, and who understood that their education was not for them alone – but it was to be put to use for the positive transformation of our society.