They Saw
The Sun First

Dedicated to Dr. Jane Smith

Who brought magic, dance and genius to the vision of Spelman’s Independent Scholars. I have the evidence because Jane was my supervisor for ten years. Every meeting with Jane began with the two of us smiling and dancing to music only the two of us heard. We would dance in place, sometimes turning in a short swirl, and always to the same music, the same rhythm. We would embrace each other with laughter just because that is what we did when we heard the music.

Our dance was never long. Neither were our meetings. Jane mastered in quick and certain and excellent and done! I would leave each meeting certain that SIS would achieve every goal Jane and I discussed. I knew SIS would publish Book One and Book Two of the SIS anthology, Their Memories, Our Treasure: Conversations with African American Women of Wisdom, and although the Pandemic changed the date of the on-line journal and deprived us of content the Young Scholars had selected, I knew, because of Jane, that the journal would be published in 2021!

It is appropriate—indeed pre-ordained—that, with love and gratitude, we dedicate the inaugural issue of They Saw the Sun First to Dr. Jane Smith, our advocate, our supervisor, our friend.

In her memory, we dance!

The Story of the SIS Online Journal

On March 6, 2020, six Young Scholars were scheduled on Delta Flight #638T that would depart Atlanta for Nassau, Bahamas for seven days and six nights of age-focused research. They would interview six centenarians and a Bahamian Suffragette, visit a public school and a private school, attend a lecture at the University on feminism in Bahamian culture, conduct research at the University Library on approved topics, and talk with Nettie Symonette about creating art and writing a book.  

By nine o’clock that evening, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, Spelman was closed and would not re-open after spring break. 

Although the world had changed and the Spelman Gates were closed, the Young Scholars remained committed to excellence. For every assignment they would have completed in Nassau, they completed three, and all of them in home spaces the Young Scholars refashioned into classrooms. They were scholars who became magicians working with love.   

It is, therefore, appropriate that this birth issue of the journal is dedicated to each of them and that, from this moment into perpetuity, each issue of the journal will acknowledge them, with gratitude and with praise, as the first writers of They Saw the Sun First.

Classic Vectors by Vecteezy
Lost Light, by Kayla Shaw
Eye/I Journal

Lost Light

Kayla Shaw

Research Logs

Youth Power Panel

Alix Swann

Summa Scholar

Old age, I have decided, is a gift.

– Maya Angelou

Elizabeth King, 100 Years Wise
Class of ’43

Young Scholar Interviews

Young Scholar Interview: Mary Campbell Schmidt, President Spelman College

When we need direction on how to proceed or how to thrive or, in some cases, how to survive until there is a new moon, we turn to leaders who know the currents, the road bends, and the heavens. And so it was that, at the beginning of
the Pandemic, Young Scholars in SIS found comfort and love in their conversation with President Mary Schmidt Campbell.