The Spelman Blueprint


The Spelman Blueprint

The Spelman Blueprint

From the Archives to the Future: The Blueprint Newspaper Returns!

Blair Martin
Several 2023-2024 Blueprint staff members.

Student journalism has been a crucial component of collegiate education for centuries, serving as a training ground for future reporters, editors, and media professionals. It provides a platform for students to investigate and report on-campus events, issues, and trends, fostering critical thinking and communication skills. In an era of digital communication, it continues to adapt, shaping the way young people engage with news and information. Student journalism not only informs but empowers the college community, shaping the leaders and informed citizens of tomorrow. Student newspapers are an essential part of many college campuses in the modern day.

Throughout its 142-year history, Spelman College has had a rich and vibrant record of student publications that deserve proper recognition for their impact on the community.

The very first Spelman publication was a magazine called the Spelman Messenger, which was first published in 1885, just four years after the college’s founding. In March of that year, the very first publication of the Spelman Messenger was circulated and reflected the vibrant and intellectual environment of Spelman College that remains true to this day. That first edition of the magazine detailed the growth of the institution, then known as the Spelman Baptist Seminary, from two teachers in 1881 to 16 in the early spring of 1885. It also boasted of the growth in student population from just 12 students to close to 600 by the time the first edition of the Spelman Messenger was published.

In addition to the growth of our school, the magazine went into detail about what Spelman students were learning in 1885. According to the first publication of the magazine, students were being taught how to cook, sew, do laundry, and find themselves within the word of Christ.

Story continues below advertisement

The early publications of the Spelman Messenger all began with a poem or prayer that greatly reflected Spelman Seminary’s desire to raise religiously devout young women, as echoed in our school’s motto: Our Whole School for Christ. In addition to prayers and poems, all editions of the Messenger featured lovely and enticing short stories and articles written by students until 2016, when the Spelman Messenger was last published. Ultimately, the Spelman Messenger, having spanned 131 years from 1885 until 2016, serves as one of our most significant archives of Spelman history.

The editors wrote in their letter from the first issue of Spelman Reflections that:

Spelman Reflections will bring you students’ views on interesting items concerning students, faculty, staff and regional, national, and world affairs. We hope that this newspaper will grow into an enjoyable and permanent part of life at Spelman…We welcome all suggestions, criticisms (and they don’t have to be complimentary), new ideas, drawings, cartoons, odd bits of news, jokes, and just plain comments about anything at all. Remember this is your newspaper.”

There’s a clear progression throughout the issues, as they start off as homemade, typed up publications with hand-drawn graphics, into officially printed newspapers filled with columns of accomplishments, open letters, national and international news, and campus events. Before the era of social media, the Spelman Spotlight served as a means of communication for Spelmanites and students of the AUC. In conjunction with the AUC Digest, a newspaper serving the entire AUC, and the Maroon Tiger, these newspapers kept students connected and involved in events throughout the campuses. Especially in an era without instant digital communication, these newspapers served as the cornerstone of information, connection, and reflection.

In 2022, the Spelman College landscape was changing with every passing moment—amidst this state of flux, Mauranne Vernier, Kylar Gray (class of 2024 ), and Sanaa Rowser (class of 2025) felt like something very essential was missing, a space where Spelman students could independently share their stories.

“We bought back The Blueprint because we knew that students—including ourselves—needed a space to express ourselves and be heard as Black women,” Gray said.

Vernier mirrored Gray’s sentiment, noting the timeliness of the initiative.

“After COVID-19, there were so many situations and memories on campus that were suddenly brand new, and we felt a responsibility to document them,” Vernier said.

The trio then enlisted the help of beloved professor Dr. Cocoa Williams, trusting that her academic background and supportive nature would assist with their storytelling venture as faculty advisor. Williams was equally thrilled about the idea of bringing a Spelman student-led publication back on campus.

“I really sympathized with those students and wanted to do everything I could to help them reinvigorate the paper and get it back into the campus community,” Williams said. “I was excited about it, I really believed it was going to be an important part of cementing and also creating the culture of Spelman College journalism.”

After becoming an official campus organization and enlisting the help of dozens of writers, editors, photographers, and jack-of-all-trades journalists to execute its mission of “serving as the voice of Spelman College and Black Womanhood,” members of The Blueprint got to work.

During their first year, members of The Blueprint attended journalism conferences, secured corporate sponsorships, and published two digital issues that covered issues including the experiences of first-generation students and the perils of grind culture within the Black community, all while finding its footing as a publication and harnessing the style and voice it wanted to utilize.

Now, the team is ready to maximize the momentum they’ve generated and continue on the path laid by generations of Spelman journalists.

“I think the key to our longevity will be us working really hard to cultivate the talent of our staff while still covering as much of our community as we can,” Vernier said.

Samiyah Kelly, the community service coordinator, is doing her part to ground the publication’s work within the greater Atlanta environment that Spelman College exists within.

“I would love to target the youth,” Kelly said. “Through my work as an educational studies minor I’ve really learned about the importance of instilling a love of reading within students, and I think exposing them to the power of journalism is a great way to do that.”

Through this community engagement, the publication is working to expand its reach beyond the AUC and impact individuals in a myriad of ways.

“My vision is for us to have a positive The Devil Wears Prada Miranda Presley moment,” Bailey Johnson, creative director, said. “To be consistent and put our time in and really capture people’s attention so that Spelmanites and their organizations are excited to have their content filtered through our lens.”

Through all of this growth, the team hopes to remain rooted within its purpose and serve as a safe space for Spelmanites.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about giving our peers a space to feel seen and heard,” Gray said. “If we can do that, we will have achieved everything I’ve dreamed of for the paper.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Spelman Blueprint

Your donation will support the student journalists of Spelman College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Spelman Blueprint

Comments (0)

All The Blueprint Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *