Anthropologist, distinguished educator, and museum professional Johnnetta Betsch Cole delivered the Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture virtually from the Amelia Island Museum of History in Fernandina Beach, Florida on Thursday, May 20, 2021.

Johnnetta Betsch Cole is a noted author and speaker on issues of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, and a committed advocate for social justice. She currently serves as the National Chair and Seventh President of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), an advocacy organization with more than 2 million members, working in the interest of women’s rights and civil rights.

Cole rose to national prominence as the first African American woman President of Spelman College and, later, as President of Bennett College, making her the only person to serve as president of both historically Black colleges for women in the United States. Over the course of her career, she has held teaching and administrative positions in anthropology, women’s studies, and African American studies at several major colleges and universities.

After retiring from academia, Cole served as the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art for eight years. Upon her retirement from the Smithsonian, she received the title of Director Emerita. Following her years at the Smithsonian, she was a Principal Consultant with Cook Ross, a management consulting firm, where she co-led a Chief Diversity Officer Leadership Forum and worked with various companies to create more inclusive and equitable workplaces. As a Senior Consulting Fellow at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, she worked on initiatives on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in art museums and higher education.