Jax Native Johnetta Cole Honored as a Trailblazer

( L-R) John Thomas Betsch, Jr., Dr. Cole, Mayor Brown, Thelma Lewis and Michael Lewis, Esq.

Mayor Alvin Brown presented renowned scholar and Jacksonville native Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole with a Trailblazer Award this week in recognition of her pioneering leadership and distinguished service. A reception in her honor was held inside the Mayor’s Office at City Hall.

During the event, Mayor Brown highlighted the impact of Cole’s life. “Even as she’s climbed to the highest levels of success, she has always embraced the responsibility to help others achieve their potential,” he said. ”She not only blazed a trail for herself; she also made sure that countless young people were able to follow in her path.”

Currently serving as director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. Over the past half century, she has built a egacy of public service through her distinguished career as a humanitarian, scholar and anthropologist.

“I am profoundly grateful to my family, friends, teachers, ministers and so many others “who grew me up” and helped me to be the person I have become,” said Dr. Cole.

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Cole’s accomplishments serve as an inspiration to many across the globe. She broke barriers in higher education as the president of Bennett College for Women and the first black female president of Spelman College. She was also the first woman to serve on the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises woman of color to serve as Chair of the board of United Way America.

The Mayor’s Trailblazer Award is conferred on African-American leaders whose influence and efforts make a lasting impact on the Northeast Florida community.

“Dr. Johnnetta Cole is a leader who exemplifies what our Trailblazer Award is all about,” Mayor Brown said.

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