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Billionaire Donates $2 Million To Create Chair In Queer Studies At Spelman College

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Billionaire Jon Stryker just gifted $2 million to HBCU Spelman College to make LGBTQ history. More inside…

Times are changing and so is higher education.

Spelman College (an all-women HBCU school in Atlanta) is seemingly the leader when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion in HBCU education. The country’s oldest historically Black college for women is about to bring new curriculum to their students.

White billionaire/ philanthropist Jon Stryker just donated $2 million to create a queer studies chair, which would be the first LGBTQ chair at a historically Black college or university.



It’s named after activist Audre Lorde (1934–1992), a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, and poet.” She often spoke at Spelman and her papers are housed at the Spelman Archives.

“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 in an email. “By empowering and educating the next generation, we can help make a future where LGBTQ people have full and equal protections under the law.”

Jon is the founder and president of the Arcus Foundation, which supports LGBTQ rights and the protection of the great apes. His estimated $3.9 billion fortune stems from Stryker Corp., the medical equipment firm his grandfather founded in 1941, according to Forbes.

“Spelman College has long been at the forefront of LGBTQ inclusion and education among HBCUs,” Stryker said in another statement. “By supporting this chair, the goal is to engage and empower the next generation of LGBTQ advocates to create a better world.”

Here’s what the position will entail:

The chair will teach classes in queer studies—allowing students at the all-female Atlanta college to concentrate in the subject as part of its comparative women’s studies major—and direct community-wide conversations and advocacy around queer issues. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, founding director of Spelman’s Women’s Research and Resource Center, says Spelman would be the only HBCU in the country with a queer studies program.

Spelman College has been putting in work when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion. In 2017, Spelman became second historically Black women's college, after Bennett College, to admit transgender women. Morehouse College (an all-male HBCU in Atlanta) will start doing the same in 2020.

Photos: Getty/Spelman's Twitter

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