February 03, 2013
The International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina recently honored Johnnetta Cole with the Alston-Jones International Civil and Human Rights Award. Presented on February 2 at the museum’s gala, the award recognizes individuals who have contributed to the expansion of civil and human rights. In accepting her award Cole told the group “It’s very hard, intensely difficult, for me to find words that would capture how profoundly honored I am.“ Prior to Cole’s current position as director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art she was president of Bennett College and later Spelman College and the first black leader of the United Way of America.
The gala commemorated the 53rd anniversary of the February 1, 1960 Woolworth sit-ins in Greensboro when four North Carolina A&T students protested segregation laws at the downtown lunch counter. The museum opened in 2010 in the former Woolworth store. Named in honor of the museum’s co-founders Melvin Alston and Earl Jones, the award is the highest honor given by the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.