Johnnetta B. Cole

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Johnnetta Cole

Johnnetta Betsch Cole is a prominent U.S. academic and activist. She is the former wife of economist Robert Cole and mother of Ethan Che Cole.

She is now married to James Staton, Jr.

In February 2009 The Smithsonian Institution named Johnnetta Cole, as the new director of the National Museum of African Art.

Cole, 72, made headlines in 1987 when she became the first African American woman to lead Atlanta's Spelman College, the country's oldest historically black women's university. After a decade at Spelman, Cole taught at Emory University, also in Atlanta, and then served as president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, NC. At Bennett, she led another successful capital campaign and founded an art gallery.

Cole serves on the Board of the TransAfrica Forum, a partner organization of the Institute for Policy Studies. She has previously served on the Board of Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, when it was headed by a refugee from Communist Cuba.

Education and teaching

Cole completed a BA in sociology at Oberlin College in 1957. She earned her Masters at Northwestern University in 1959 and PhD in anthropology in 1967.

Cole taught briefly at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1964 and directed the black studies program at Washington State Universityin 1969/70. She taught anthropology at the University of Massachusetts from 1970 to 1983. She then joined Hunter College, where she directed the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program.

Marrying Robert Cole

After earning her bachelor's degree in anthropology at Oberlin in 1957, the future Johnnetta Cole went on to graduate study at Northwestern University. There she worked under noted anthropologists Paul J. Bohannan and Melville J. Herskovits. To her surprise, she also fell in love with a white graduate student in the economics program. "It was not my plan to fall in love with Robert Cole," she remarked in Ms."And I doubt seriously that this man coming from an Iowa dairy farming family … intended to fall in love with a black woman from Jacksonville, Florida." Nevertheless, the two were married. Robert Cole shared his wife's fascination with Africa, and after their wedding day, they traveled to Liberia to work cooperatively on research that would form the basis of both their dissertations.

The marriage ended in 1982[1].


Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight, Actress Crystal Fox, and Congresswoman Nikema Williams will be among the speakers at a virtual town hall Oprah Winfrey will host live Monday, Jan. 4 2021cat 8 PM, ET. The event is part of OWN’s continued OWN YOUR VOTE nonpartisan get-out-the-vote initiative intended to encourage, inspire and support voters ahead of Georgia’s Special Election. The town hall is free and open to the public and presented in partnership with Open Society Foundations and Kapor Center.

Representatives from women’s organizations will also participate including: Dr. Glenda Glover (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated); Beverly E. Smith (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated); Melanie Campbell (Black Women’s Roundtable); Glynda Carr (Higher Heights Leadership Fund); Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole (NCNW); Dr. Kimberly Leonard (The Links, Incorporated); Rasheeda S. Liberty (Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated); Valerie Hollingsworth Baker (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated). A closing prayer will be offered by Rev. Toni Belin Ingram, Presiding Elder, AME Church.[2]

Communist front history

Johnnetta Cole and former husband Robert Cole both have long histories of communist front activitiy.


In 1974 Johnnetta B. Cole National Committee Venceremos Brigade, Amherst, Mass is listed as a sponsor of Cuba/Chile '74-Two Faces of Latin America, July 27-28, 1974, Chicago, sponsored by the Committee for July 25 a Communist Party USA dominated group.

In 1975 Johnnetta B. Cole was again cofirmed as member[3] of the National Executive Committee of the Venceremos Brigades-an organization established to send work brigades to Cuba. Venceremos was initiated by members of Students for a Democratic Society (including several who later joined the terrorist Weather Underground Organization), but by the mid 1970s was largely controlled by the Communist Party USA.

Also in 1975[4]Cole a member of the National Committee of the Venceremos Brigade, and professor, Afro-American Studies & Anthropology, U. of Massachusetts opened the main activity, A Peoples Salute to Cuba (July 24-25, 1975) in New York City's Manhattan Center. It was sponsored by the Committee for July 26th which included more than 25 progressive organizations in the New York City area and was dominated by the Communist Party USA and Castroite support groups.

Members of the Venceremos Brigades have been trained[5]in sabotage, propaganda and subversion in Cuba.

Solidarity with revolutionaries

In 1975 Johnnetta B. Cole was listed as a sponsor of the Second National Conference in Solidarity with Chile, February 8-9, 1975. Robert Cole, a sponsor of the same event, was identified as a member of the New American Movement.

The New American Movement was formed mainly by former members of Students for a Democratic Society and the Communist Party USA.

In late 1975 Johnnetta B. Cole and Robert Cole were listed as sponsors of an ad in the New York Times of Dec. 14, 1975 placed by the National Coordinating Center in Solidarity with Chile, a Communist Party USA[6] front.

In 1976 Johnnetta B. Cole represented[7]the National Executive Committee of the Venceremos Brigades at a May 28-30, Angola Support Conference held in Chicago. The conference was held to develop a support network for Republic of Angola led then by the marxist-leninist MPLA.

In October 1976 Johnnetta B. Cole is listed[8]as an endorser of a rally and demonstration by the Committee to stop U.S. Aggression Against Cuba.

Prof. Johnnetta B. Cole is also listed as an endorser of the July 4 Coalition statement The American Revolution continues, a marxist declaration of the J4C group. The J4C was a joint project of the marxist Puerto Rican Socialist Party, the Weather Underground Organization and their public support group the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee.

In 1979 Johnnetta B. Cole was identified[9]as a co-author, along with Communist Party USA member Terry Cannon of Free and Equal: The End of Racial Discrimination in Cuba, a Venceremos Brigade publication.

On March 28 1981, Johnnetta B. Cole was opening speaker[10] and sometime chairman of the First National Conference to End the U.S. Blockade Againt Cuba, in Washington DC.

In 1985 Johnnetta B. Cole, Hunter College, was listed[11]as both a co-chairman and speaker for What Are The Lessons of Vietnam?", sponsored by the Vietnam 10th Anniversary Committee. The May 5 event at the Washington Irving High School, Manhattan, was themed Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the April 30, 1975 Vietnam victory over U.S. military intervention.

On June 6, 1986 Johnnetta B. Cole spoke[12] on Socialism in Cuba: Lessons for the Americas, at the People's School for Marxist Studies, 235 W. 23rd St.,Manhattan.

In 1988 Johnnetta B. Cole was listed as a sponsor[13] of the Center for Cuban Studies, a combined Communist Party USA/Castroite operation.

North Americans in Support of Angola

Angola conference.JPG

The Angola Support Conference ran from May 28 - 30, 1976 in Chicago. The event was sponsored by the U.S. Out of Angola Committee and the National Conference of Black Lawyers.

Johnnetta B. Cole of the Venceremos Brigade National Committee was a delegate at the conference.[14]

The Angola Support Conference came into existence to organize a conference to support the MPLA held in Chicago, May 28-30, 1976. The Conference supported the MPLA and opposed U.S. and South African intervention in Angola. The sponsors were organizations supporting the MPLA from around the country. After the Chicago conference, the organization continued its activities with Prexy Nesbitt serving as national coordinator. Sponsors were;

Cuban trips

In 1978 Both Robert and Johnnetta B. Cole were identified on a leaflet advertising a tour to Cuba sponsored by the Venceremos Brigade and Anniversary Tours, a Communist party business operation. The tour was entitled "Cubamobile #1" and was to be guided by the Coles from March 7-23, 1978.

In 1979 Johnnetta B. Cole was one of the five official U.S. guests[16]invited to the 20th aniversary of the Cuban revolution by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC). Other guests included Juan Mari Bras, general-secretary of the marxist-leninist Puerto Rican Socialist Party and Communist Party USA national chairman Henry Winston.

Randall Robinson's recollection of his most recent meeting with Castro in 1999 reads like something out of a romance novel. (Others joining him on the trip included Danny Glover and Johnnetta B. Cole.[17]

U.S. Peace Council

In 1979 the Communist Party USA set up a U.S. affiliate[18]of the Soviet front[19]World Peace Council-the U.S. Peace Council. Johnnetta Cole was identified[20]as a founder of the U.S. Peace Council and she was named on the Partial List of Sponsors of the Nov. 9-11, 1979 National Founding Conference. Cole was elected[21]Chairperson, along with four others, of the U.S. Peace Council Nov. 15, 1981 at their second national conference.

Her husband, Robert E Cole, was listed on the U.S. Peace Council founding conference sponsors list as economist, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Marxist theoretician

Johnnetta B. Cole was listed as a member of the Advisory Board[22] of Rethinking Marxism, self-described as a quarterly journal of Marxian thought that began publication in Spring 1988.

The Black Scholar

Johnnetta B. Cole was a contributor to The Black Scholar.[23]

Links to the Clinton Administration and Hillary Clinton

Hidden among the appointments of the Clinton Administration of "cluster coordinators" to run the transition teams was Johnnetta Cole, then the president of the prestigous black Spelman College. When the conservative news media learned of her appointment, they published major articles detailing her communist background affiliations, especially those connected to the Communist Party USA CPUSA and its fronts, as well as to organizations with direct ties to the Cuban intelligence service, the DGI, which, in turn, was controlled for many years by the Soviet KGB intelligence agency.

Major articles appeared in the following:

  • Human Events (The National Conservative Weekly). December 12, 1992, cover story, "Clinton Chooses Extremist to Head Key Transition Teams: Will Coordinate Education, Arts, Labor and Humanities", by Herbert Romerstein.
  • The Forward, December 11, 1972, (the oldest existing New York (conservative) Jewish newspaper)

What these publications revealed, plus what was in congressional hearings, the Communist press, and in the publications of various communist front groups left no doubt as to Cole's decades-long open affiliations with communist fronts and causes. Most of the known affiliations of Cole and the communists will be listed below (as taken from all these sources combined, original ones when possible).

Master List of Communist Fronts and Causes Involving Johnnetta Cole (and her husband, Robert Cole)

[This list may be duplicative of identical listings elsewhere in this section but they will be rearranged as much as possible in chronological order)

(NB: This ad was heavily loaded with member of the CPUSA, their well-documents supporters, various well-known marxists, leftist entertainers/writers/artists [many of them well know communists/marxists], leftist and liberal professors, etc. The amount of work that it took to put this list together showed the incredible national network and organizational skills of the communists, esp. of the CPUSA, to open the attack on the military officers who overthrew the marxist government of Salvador Allende in Chile. Similar ads, including that of the Ad Hoc Committee of Concerned Citizens, under examination, showed the skilled hand of the CPUSA in terms of who they contacted and where, esp. when peoples names were matched against congressional hearings on internal security and the CPUSA. However, not everyone on this list were communists and may not have known that it was being sponsored by them. It looks like some were contacted through the industries they worked in, i.e. entertainment, education, etc. However, those names of the hard-core communists left no doubt as to who was behind the ad. No non-communist organization could have put these many people together in so short a time).

Out of this ad would come a CPUSA front, the Chile Solidarity Committee. It's history would be put into the "Congressional Record" by Rep. John Ashbrook in 1973 and 1974, with the key names of the conference's founders and sponsors.

  • Committee of Sponsors, New World Review Luncheon, March 25, 1979, "SALT II: Turning Point for Peace", New York City

(mailed out invitation flier)

  • Speaker, "First National Organizing Conference to End the U.S. Blockade Against Cuba", March, 1981, "Daily World", "End to Cuban Blockade Demanded", April 3, 1981, p. 1 & 14.

"Prof. Johnetta (sic) Cole, of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, opened the conference by reading a statement of purpose outlining the urgent task of countering this stepped up U.S. attack on Cuba."

"She pointed out that Reagan and Secretary of State Alexander Haig are spreading a "lie" that all national liberation movements in Latin America are the result of 'Cuban subversion'."

"She said "The Cuban connection is being used to the maximum as part of the greatest lie of all: that the sharpest rise in military spending and sharpest fall in social spending in U.S. history is necessary to protect us from the 'communist threat'."

  • Scheduled speaker, Nov. 12, 1982 (DW Nov. 11, 1982, p. 19, "What's On" section, which said: "Join us at Hunter College Playhouse for a presentation on the elimination of racism in Cuba. Speakers: Dr. Jonetta Cole (sic) Johnnetta Cole and Dr. Lopez Valdez...Sponsors: Venceremos Brigade (VB) and Hunter College Day Session Student Government.
  • Speaker, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, on "Socialism in Cuba: Lessons for the Americas", People's School for Marxist Studies, 235 W. 23rd Street, Manhattan, NYC, June 6, 1986, "What's On", "People's Weekly World", p. 10

External links


  2. [1]
  3. Venceremos Brigade newsletter, Vol 3, #3, December, 1975
  4. Venceremos of Vol. 3, No.1, October, 1975
  5. The Venceremos Brigade, Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, 1972
  6. Congressional Records of July 11, 1974, pages E 4632-33, "The National Legislative Conference on Chile", CR, Feb. 6, 1975, E 436-438, Reds Prepare Anti-Chile Lobby
  7. Venceremos, the newsletter of the VB, VOl 3, No 8, June-July 1976
  8. Information DigestJan. 22, 1988
  9. Dailv World, May 9, 1979, p. 9
  10. Daily World, April 3, 1981, pages 5,14
  11. The Guardian, May 5, 1985
  12. People's Daily World, p10, June 4, 1986
  13. Information Digest Jan. 22,1988
  14. Letter to all persons who attended the Angola Support Conference, July 8, 1976
  15. Angola Support Conference Wisconsin State Historical Society]
  16. Information Digest November 9 1979 p 340
  17. Cubanet, Randall Robinson's Love Affair with Castro | June 13, 2001
  18. State Department publications on Disinformation, 1986, 87, 88-Soviet Active Measures
  19. Soviet Active Measures, Congressional Record, June, 1989
  20. Jan. 22,1988 Information Digest
  21. "Peace and Solidarity" newsletter, USPC, Vo. 4, No.1, Jan-Feb, 1982, p. 1.
  22. Guardian, Feb. 24, 1988
  23. The Black Scholar