Seminar Objects

Object from the National Museum of African American History and Culture Blog Post

Image for Academic cap worn by Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole at Bennett College       

Photograph of Academic Cap worn by Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole at Bennett College, retrieved from: goo.gl/h6syor

          Upon looking through the National Museum of African American History and Culture collections that were on display I found a Academic cap worn by Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole at Bennett College. The academic cap was designed by Barbara Nicholson a successful African American businesswoman who owns her own company called Champagne and Grits Studio and Galleria. The cap is  made up of mortarboards, satin material and silk ropes. The cap is a indigo blue with black and gold stripes across the top and a gold tassel. The edging of the horizontal board and skull-cap has an elaborate ethnic pattern to it. The inside of the cap is embroidered with the date of October 11th 2003 in gold thread. While on to there is a quote printed on top of the cap staring, “Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise -Maya Angelou”. The cap was made in 2003 for Dr. Johnnetta Cole who was appointed the 14th President of Bennett College on October 11, 2003. Dr. Johnnetta Cole is currently the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

         I chose this object because of the symbolism of the academic cap in current times. It is a symbol of education and accomplishment. When everyone is striving for the “American Dream” education is the first obstacle in the path to accomplishing this idealized status. The cap embodies the hopes for a better life that come with being educated and linked with said College or University. When worn it shows to everyone the accomplishments that the person has completed, to further themselves along the path of a better life. This is a common thread that ties people together regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, background or sexual orientation. Hope for a better life is what America is all about, it is about the opportunity to better ones standing through means of education and hard work.

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