Alumnae in Arts and Media

Clark Atlanta University (CAU) celebrates the accomplishments of the phenomenal alumnae of our past, present and future. Here are some famous and influential alumnae of CAU and our predecessor institutions, Atlanta University (1865) and Clark College (1869). These incredible women of excellence have advocated and advanced our communities in arts and media:

 WOMEN of the ARTS

Adrienne Elizabeth McNeil Herndon
Actress, Educator, Designer
Atlanta University (Normal School), 1890
Faculty, Atlanta University-1895-1910

Born on July 22, 1869, in Savannah, Georgia, Adrienne Elizabeth McNeil Herndon was an 1890 graduate of Atlanta University's Normal Department, and later attended the Boston School of Dramatic Arts (1902-3) and New York City's American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She created the oldest drama program in the country at the Atlanta University, where she served as the head of the department of drama and elocution in 1895. Herndon brought Shakespeare to the South, presenting the University's first Shakespearean production. She directed the University's theater offerings and gave Atlanta's black community access to serious, high-quality drama with professional stage sets and costumes.

 

As an activist, she hosted the "Niagara Movement" organized by Atlanta University’s W.E.B Du Bois (1905) and she participated in the Wheat Street Baptist Church demonstration for the "southern movement" on November 30, 1905.

 

Herndon’s home, which she designed with no plans, is among her many artistic and cultural contributions to Atlanta. Working closely with a team of black craftsmen, Herndon designed the two-story Beaux Arts Classical Mansion near the Atlanta University Center. Unfortunately, Herndon died of Addison's disease just as the home was nearing completion, on April 6, 1910.
Today, the Herndon House is designated as an official National Landmark.

 

 

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Amy Sherald
Artist, Painter
Clark Atlanta University, 1997

Concurrent with her studies at Clark Atlanta University, Sherald apprenticed with artist-historian Dr. Arturo Lindsay of Spelman College. In 1997, Sherald earned her B.A. in fine arts from CAU. Two years later, she helped organize and install international exhibitions in Central and South America.

Sherald received first prize in the 2016 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Sherald painted the official portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery in 2018. The artist also received the 2018 David C. Driskell Prize from the High Museum Art in Atlanta.

 

 

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WOMEN in the MEDIA

Billye Suber Aaron
Former TV Personality, Educator
and UNCF Vice President
Atlanta University, 1960

A 1960 graduate of Atlanta University, Billye Suber Aaron made her television debut in July 1968 on WSB-TV’s “Today in Georgia,” becoming the first African-American woman in the Southeast to co-host a daily hour-long talk show.

In 1980, she joined the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) as area development director & vice president, Southern region – becoming the second woman in the organization to hold the position. Aaron created or co-founded several philanthropic initiatives, including the UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball, the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, and the “44 Forever” program, in partnership with the Major League Baseball and the National Boys and Girls Club.

Aaron received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Clark Atlanta University in May 2018.

 

 

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Amanda Marie Davis
Emmy-award winning News Anchor
Clark College, 1978

In 1978, Davis graduated Magna Cum Laude from Clark College with a degree in broadcasting, a member of the inaugural Department of Mass Communications. Davis worked as news anchor and reporter at WAGA-FOX5 Atlanta for nearly 30 years, co-hosting the original Good Day Atlanta show. Her top stories include her coverage of Coretta Scott King‘s funeral and her interview with president-elect Barack Obama. She also served as the morning and noon show host at WGCL-CBS46 Atlanta for two years. Over the course of her career, she received the coveted RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award, 10 Southeast Regional Emmy Awards, Georgia Association of Broadcasters Gabby Award and the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists Pioneer of the Year Award. Following her untimely passing, CAU posthumously honored Amanda Davis with the 2018 Pathways to Excellence Award.

 

 

 

 

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