The 'Belles' Are Back: Bennett College for Women Is Ever Mindful of Its Place in History While Preparing Students for Their Future in a Global Society

By Hamilton, Kendra | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, March 5, 2009 | Go to article overview

The 'Belles' Are Back: Bennett College for Women Is Ever Mindful of Its Place in History While Preparing Students for Their Future in a Global Society


Hamilton, Kendra, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The "Bennett Belle." The words conjure an image that is genteel, old-fashioned--hats and gloves, brown-skinned women in flowing white dresses beaming as they take that final walk to graduation.

The Bennett College for Women campus certainly reinforces the image, with its broad, tree-shaded lawns and quadrangle and its historic buildings--fully 15 of the 29 total have National Register status, from the majestic Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel to the Carnegie Negro Library facing busy East Washington Street.

But the pleasant paradox of Bennett College is the way in which old and new are meeting there in such intriguing ways--in, for example, the poised personage of Mesha White, student government president and campus ambassador. "We say at Bennett that you come here to meet the woman you're going to become," White says, as she guides a visitor across the Greensboro, N.C., campus on a brisk, sunny late winter morning.

White has all the grace and poise one would expect of a "Belle" but she's also a global citizen, speaking with passion about her semester in Ghana, her interests in business and communications, her hopes of getting into Columbia University's international studies program--or perhaps a job in Washington, D.C.--next year.

White is also, according to Bennett President Julianne Malveaux, one of the most dynamic student activists on the campus of 689 students--a young woman who, one weekend before, had organized a peace and justice march that drew upward of 700 students from Bennett, North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro to commemorate the lives of two young N.C. A&T students murdered in random acts of violence.

"The young men had been shot at [N.C.] A&T, but it's not an [N.C.] A&T problem--it's a young people's problem. So Mesha was fantastic--she simply stepped up and organized it. I marched with them for a little while, and it was incredibly inspiring to see so many young people gathered on a Saturday" Malveaux says.

Implementing a 21st-century Vision

Malveaux is quick to draw connections between Bennett's present and its past, reminding visitors that Bennett's iconic president, Willa B. Player, gave the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. his first pulpit in Greensboro--when "all the ministers were too frightened;" that for every A&T student who sat at a lunch counter, there were 10 Belles outside holding placards, marching and singing as they went to jail; that Player demonstrated her own commitment by entering the jail herself to take the girls their homework.

"Which, if you think about the South and the times, sends such an interesting signal," Malveaux muses. "She was letting the powers that-be know: Don't mess with my girls"

Malveaux admits that she thinks a lot about history at Bennett. As one of only two women's historically Black colleges in the nation (Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., is the other), "this is a critical place in the annals of Black history, not to mention the annals of women's history," she says. But hers is no simple exercise in nostalgia: Malveaux, with the advantage of an edgy commentator's persona, an incisive intellect and a sweeping grasp of national and international perspectives, is in the process of crafting a 21st-century vision for Bennett, a vision that involves "seeing Black women in a context, and teaching our students to see themselves in those terms as well."

In addition to Bennett's core areas of education and science, Malveaux has begun laying a foundation for her vision of renewal for the college that includes four academic cornerstones: global studies, communications and media studies, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

She explains: "If there's anything we know about the 21st century it's that these are the key areas. Women in the 21st century must be global. They must be communicators--they must be able to talk, write, present and represent.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The 'Belles' Are Back: Bennett College for Women Is Ever Mindful of Its Place in History While Preparing Students for Their Future in a Global Society
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.