By Special to the Daily World
In the Spring of 1991, the first two of five Turner Sisters graduated from Spelman College, Dennise and Donni Turner. They were followed by sisters Dawn (’95), Dorian (’99) and Deidre (’01). Their decision to attend Spelman was not by chance, since in fact their father, Dr. Dennis Turner Jr. attended Morehouse College (’68) and their mother, Janet Tillman Turner, aunts Dr. Clifton Tinsley, Georgianne Tinsley and Dr. Betty Tinsley and great-grandmother, Mrs. N. P. Tillman Sr. (Mattie, wife of Dr. N. P. Tillman Sr., dean, Atlanta University and mother of Dr. N. P. Tillman Jr., dean, Delaware State College) had also attended Spelman.
In this month of Black Woman achievement, the idea of five sisters “finishing” Spelman is not so far-fetched. The sisters as young women were guided in their college decision-making process by the legacy of the Spelman experience but also by the generations of Spelman women who were giants in their own right.
Dennise (M.A., University of Chicago) is a Ph.D. candidate at Georgia State University and an adjunct professor of history at Morehouse College. Donni, (J.D., Howard University School of Law) has followed her dream to be on Capitol Hill by working in the then-Clinton White House, and as legislative assistant to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Richard (Dick) Durbin of Illinois, then Sens. Max Cleland and Sam Nunn of Georgia and Rep. David Scott, also of Georgia.
Donni is presently director of policy, Labor Department for the State of Maryland.
True to its mission of training the next generation of women leaders, Spelman was instrumental in inspiring Dawn Turner (Ed.D.) in her career as lead counselor and Counselor of the Year at Henry County High School. Dorian (M.A., New York University in Latin American Studies) continues to pursue acting while teaching both Spanish and Portuguese to aspiring students of all ages, and has traveled and studied extensively in South America.
The last Turner sister, Deidre, was a reporter and anchor in Savannah, Ga., while working at ABC News in New York City during the tragic days of 9/11. She and her colleagues won the prestigious Peabody Award for Outstanding Reporting. Deidre is married to Kevin Johnson (Morehouse College ’01) and they are the proud parents of a 4- month-old, Miles Christopher.
It is altogether fitting and proper that we celebrate Black History Month. It is also appropriate that we salute the “Turner 5” and the school that helped produce them – Spelman College.