GREENSBORO — Former Bennett College leader Johnnetta Cole will be the keynote speaker at Guilford College’s commencement in May.

The local private college announced Wednesday that it will award Cole an honorary doctorate at graduation.

Cole is the only person to have been president of the nation’s two remaining historically black colleges for women. She led Spelman College in Atlanta from 1987 to 1997 and Bennett College in Greensboro from 2002 to 2007. She later directed the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art from 2009 to 2017.

Cole holds a doctorate in anthropology from Northwestern University in Illinois. She taught at several universities and ultimately retired from Emory University in Atlanta, where she was a distinguished professor of anthropology, women’s studies and African American studies.

Cole has collected numerous awards and more than 60 honorary degrees. She’ll be only the fifth person to receive an honorary degree from Guilford.

Guilford’s commencement ceremony will be held May 4 on campus.

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Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.​

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