Bennett College Celebrates 90th Anniversary as a Women’s College

By Felicia Smith, Journalism Major at Bennett College

February 11, 2016

Bennett College has had 17 presidents in its history. From left to right are: President Rosalind Fuse-Hall, J.D., the current president of Bennett College, and former presidents: Dr. Gloria Scott, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, and Dr. Johnetta B. Cole.

Greensboro, NC - Bennett College celebrates its 90th anniversary this year as a women’s college and has a series of events scheduled to mark the milestone.

“Here at Bennett College we develop young women into future teachers, scientists, journalists, entrepreneurs, social workers, and the list goes on-because we go on,” said Bennett College President Rosalind Fuse-Hall. “As we celebrate 90 years of Bennett College, we also celebrate 90 years of sisters who have come together on this campus, sisters who developed into more than just graduates and achievers. Bennett Belles know that there is no limit to what they can do, because no does not mean never.”

Bennett College was founded in 1873 by emancipated slaves in the basement of Warnersville Methodist Episcopal Church. Seventy young men and women started a school of elementary and secondary level studies. In 1874, the Freedmen’s Aid Society took over the school which remained under its auspices for 50 years. In 1926, Bennett College was officially named a Women’s College. Although Bennett College is a historically Black college, the college has both faculty and students who are from very diverse backgrounds.

Ms. Deborah Love, who is the President of Bennett College National Alumnae Association, and Ms. Keri Petersen, assistant professor of history in the College’s Department of Humanities are chairing the planning committee. The events planned to highlight the anniversary are below:


  • February 25th, 26th and 27th, 7:30 p.m., Little Theatre: The Spirit of Harriet Tubman. General Admission $10.00; Senior Citizens, Non-Bennett Students and Alumnae $5.00; Faculty, Staff and Bennett Students FREE. For reservations call (336)517-2301.
  • Feb 22nd - 26th: Gordon Parks Film Festival, hosted by the Journalism and Media Studies Department, will feature Antonio Fargas, David Parks and rare historical films. The Festival is in the Global Learning Center both evenings. The photography exhibit will be at Steele Hall on Thursday at 4 p.m.. All events are free and open to the public For more information, please call 804 571-1866.


  • Beginning of retrospective film series screening of path breaking films that were produced by young, Black women filmmakers, highlighting Black women and social justice. Many of these films made their premiere at Bennett College. This month’s film will be Silent Choices.
  • March 19th, 8 a.m.: There will be a seminar by United Methodist Women - Northern Piedmont District on immigration, with an opening segment on the relationship between the Women’s Division and Trustee’s, and the Bennett Community to transform Bennett from a coed institution to a women’s college.
  • March 23rd, 7 p.m., GLC Auditorium: “Beekeeper: Performing Black Southern Women Who Love Women.” by E. Patrick Johnson, Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.


  • Africana Women’s Studies (AWS)/History, Philosophy, Religion and Interdisciplinary Studies (HPRIS) presents Retrospective Film Series, No! The Rape Documentary. (Date and Time TBA)
  • Program by Sociologist, and Director of Africana Studies, Dr. Ellington Graves from Virginia Tech. (Event, Date and Time To Be Confirmed)


  • Sept 26th - 28th: Historic Site Tour of Bennett College, as part of the North Carolina Preservation Statewide Conference, highlighting Bennett College’s history as a women’s college, and the 75th anniversary of the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel.

Other Events (dates and time TBA)

  • Fall 2016: Black Women and Public History - features a panel of young Black women preservationists led by the Director of Programs and Collections at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN.
  • Presentation by Bennett Alumna, Dr. Tia Smith, head of communications at Xavier University
  • AWS/HPRIS Retrospective Film Series continues with: Susie Powell’s “The Loving Story”; “Black./Womyn. Conversations with Lesbians of African Descent;” and “The New Black.”

Bennett College during its early beginnings