On View
Cultural Expressions Gallery
Cultural Expressions
Designed by
Nicholson, Barbara, American
Worn by
Dr. Cole, Johnnetta Betsch, American, born 1936
Subject of
Bennett College, American, founded 1873
synthetic fiber, cowrie shells, paint, metal zipper, tassels, and Velcro (TM)
H x W (flat): 56 1/2 × 39 1/2 in. (143.5 × 100.3 cm)
An academic robe in blue and gold from Bennett College worn by Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole with custom designs by Barbara Nicholson. The robe is made from a blue synthetic fabric with the hem and the central front opening trimmed in a wide blue, gold, and black woven striped tape. There are three (3) stripes of a black, gold, and blue woven tape with a scrollwork design on each sleeve. Adinkra symbols are hand painted in gold at the center front neck, on each cuff, and four (4) around the bottom. Excerpts from poems by Maya Angelou are also hand painted in gold around the bottom of the robe. The robe closes at the center front with a metal zipper trimmed with a gold tassel at the top and bottom of the zipper. The cuffs close with blue Velcro. A cowrie shell is hand sewn at the upper seam of the proper left cuff above the gold painted symbol. Two (2) additional cowrie shells are hand sewn along the center back pleat of the robe. A blue twisted cord extends from the center back neck and loops around a blue plastic button to secure an academic hood to the robe.
Place used
Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina, United States, North and Central America
Cultural Place
Ghana, West Africa, Africa
African diaspora
Clothing and dress
Fashion design
HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Johnnetta Betsch Cole
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions

Cataloging is an ongoing process and we may update this record as we conduct additional research and review. If you have more information about this object, please contact us at NMAAHCDigiTeam@si.edu

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