News & Ideas  -  Education and Democracy: A Conversation with Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole

Defending Inclusive Democracy News Senior Fellows

The Charles F. Kettering Foundation is proud to share the second in a series of videos featuring Kettering senior fellow Johnnetta Betsch Cole. Kettering president and CEO Sharon L. Davies sat down with Cole to document and celebrate her extensive and multifaceted journey over more than eight decades. Cole is a noted anthropologist, educator, author, speaker, and consultant on diversity, equity, accessibilities, and inclusion in workplaces. She is also the former president of both Spelman College and Bennett College and the former director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

In a discussion marking the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, Davies and Cole reflect on the historic Supreme Court decision that ended the segregation of Black and White children in schools. Cole recounts her experiences with segregation and expresses concern that schools remain segregated today. Their conversation focuses on the ongoing struggle for equal education, emphasizing that without education, citizens lose the right of fundamental democratic participation. The simple act of learning to read and becoming a lifelong learner is an important antidote to the suppression of certain books and critical thinking in schools. Cole closes with the charge to step out of your own community and “into a place in defense of yet another community” for “that is democracy in its fullness.”

Watch the video to learn more.