Hollywood icon Samuel L. Jackson and his wife and fellow thespian, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, made history by donating $5 million dollars to help renovate the John D. Rockefeller Fine Arts at Spelman College.
The Jacksons are alumni of famed HBCUs Morehouse College and Spelman, respectively. They met while attending school in the Atlanta University Center in the 1970s and acted together in the Morehouse Spelman acting troupe. The donation is the largest monetary amount ever given by an alumna of Spelman.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), renovating the Spelman arts building has been a longtime goal. Now, with the help of the Jacksons and other donors, the nation’s top-ranked HBCU can proceed with those plans.
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“Renovation talk has been going on since I arrived at Spelman over seven and a half years ago,” Spelman theater and performance department chair Aku Kadogo told the AJC. “You don’t really believe it until you see it, so I’m excited this is happening.”
In addition to the Jacksons’ donation, Spelman received $10 million from George Lucas and wife Mellody Hobson, $2 million from Bank of America and $300,000 from the Rockefeller family, bringing the total raised for the project to $17.3 million.
It was announced in May that Spelman planned to rename the center the LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Samuel L. Jackson Performing Arts Center.
“The love that both LaTanya and Sam continue to exhibit for Spelman since their time on stage decades ago is heartwarming,” Spelman President Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell previously said in a statement on the school’s website. “These living legends met and acted together on stage on our campus. Their dedication to their artistry will leave a legacy that will inspire students in the Atlanta University Center for years to come.”
In addition to being a Spelman alum, Richardson Jackson serves on the school’s Board of Trustees. An Atlanta native, she expressed what her school means to her.
“The benevolence of God placed me, Sam and our daughter Zoe inside a miracle which out of great gratitude, we work hard to share. Sam and I are invested in the success of Spelman because Spelman first invested so much in us,” Richardson Jackson said.