Spelman College has received a $2 million to create a queer studies chair.
Spelman College is a historic college catered to women of color. As with many HBCUs, Spelman was created to educate and enrich the lives of Black youth. In addition, it is the only HBCU, out of 101, with a queer studies program.
Gay Billionaire Jon Stryker, who’s the founder and president of LGBTQ rights organization the Arcus Foundation, recently donated the large sum with the goal “to deepen [students’] understanding around the study of sexuality and gender.”
“The more that people understand queer history and LGBTQ issues, the more likely they are to accept and support the LGBTQ community,” Stryker told Forbes. “By empowering and educating the next generation, we can help make a future where LGBTQ people have full and equal protections under the law.”
In addition, Spelman has promised to begin a $2 million fundraising campaign to match Stryker’s donation, according to Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.
The chair of the Queer Studies department will be named after poet and civil rights activist Audre Lorde. The role will also be attached to the Comparative Women’s Studies Program housed at Spelman’s Women’s Research and Resource Center.
“Spelman College has long been at the forefront of LGBTQ inclusion and education among HBCUs,” Stryker said in a statement to The Root. “By supporting this chair, the goal is to engage and empower the next generation of LGBTQ advocates to create a better world.”
“A major theme of Spelman’s strategic plan is ‘elevating the Spelman Difference,’ that is creating opportunities to recruit and retain the kind of excellent faculty who are the hallmark of Spelman excellence,” said Schmidt Campbell. “A chaired professorship in Queer Studies enables the College to build on one of its strengths and that is the Spelman’s educational inclusiveness, spearheaded by the Women’s Research and Resource Center under the stellar direction of Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall. Spelman’s Women’s Center has been and continues to be a pioneering leader in advancing scholarship in the area of Queer Studies. Jon Stryker’s generous contribution to further his commitment to LGBTQ inclusion and education will allow Spelman students to deepen their understanding around the study of sexuality and gender. We are honored to name the chair after the literary luminary and fierce activist, Audre Lorde.”