LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Samuel L. Jackson Give to Spelman College

In Summary

The donation from Jackon is the largest alumni donation in Spelman college’s history and has attracted multiple other donations for the college’s arts program. 

Spelman College received its largest alumnae donation of $5 million for support at its John D. Rockefeller Fine Arts building. 

Alumnae LaTanya Richardson Jackson and her husband Samuel L. Jackson first acted in the fine arts academy in their undergrad years, and are now giving back to make renovations for the building. 

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the building was in desperate need of renovations, citing problems such as asbestos, poor ventilation and a lack of handicap accessibility. The college decided it would start renovations in the spring of 2022. 

Faculty members have long since heard rumors of renovations prior to Jackson’s donation but never really believed that it would happen, with the chair of the Theater and Performance Department, Aku Kadogo, stating that she had been hearing talk since she started over seven years. 

Related: Dillard University Receives $5 Million for Civil Rights, Other Internships

“You don’t really believe it until you see it, so I’m excited that this is happening,” Kadogo tells AJC. 

As AJC reports, it wasn’t until around 2015 that renovations became a major focus when Mary Schmidt Campbell became president. 

Building a new stage theater for the Theater and Performance Department would be too expensive, according to Arthur E. Frazier III, Spelman’s director of facilities management and services. Frazier goes on to add that the college decided to not only renovate the existing theater in the John D. Rockefeller building, they would also construct a new building. Creating the Center for Innovation and the Arts, designed by Studio Gang Architects with Atlanta-based Goode Van Slyke Architecture, the new construction would provide more facilities for students. 

Frazier also tells AJC that Richardson Jackson expressed to the college how much she would love to have renovations done to the facility, coincidently on the couple’s 40th anniversary. She also shared with Frazier how the two met for the second time in that building and how it holds a special place in their hearts. 

AJC also mentions the pair took it upon themselves to gather funds for the renovation. With several others such as George Lucas and Mellody Hobson contributing $10 million, and Bank of America as well as descendants of John D. Rockefeller donating $2 million and $300,000 respectively, the total funds raised amounted to $17.3 million. 

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