Watch CBS News

Spelman College celebrates filmmaker Spike Lee's Family ties to the college

Acclaimed film director Spike Lee celebrates Spelman College's history with his own family heritage
Acclaimed film director Spike Lee celebrates Spelman College's history with his own family heritage 01:56

ATLANTA, Ga. (WUPA) – Acclaimed film director Spike Lee and his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, joined Spelman College for a celebration connecting the college's history with his own family heritage.

On November 28, 2022, the college dedicated the Admissions Office in Packard Hall to Lee's grandmother, Zimmie Reatha Shelton, and his mother, Jacquelyn Shelton Lee. Following the dedication, they unveiled banners outside of the building showcasing iconic black and white photos of the matriarchs, who graduated from Spelman in 1929 and 1954, respectively. They both lived in Packard when it was a residential hall, and his grandmother also attended high school at Spelman.

"Back in the day, Packard Hall was a dorm. And I'm not gonna get into specifics," Lee jokes, referring to his days at Morehouse College, where he followed in the footsteps of other family members.

"My father went there, my grandfather went there, and my mother and grandmother went to Spelman," said Lee.

The dedication connects the past and present with the future.

"It's really inspiring, one, and it really just goes to show what an HBCU education and experience is like, what it can do for young Black kids," said Tyler Dorsey, a freshman.

"It represents not only the Lee family, but other families that have a history and a legacy that they pass on to their children and to their children's children," said Spelman College President Dr. Helene Gayle.

"Hopefully it's a reminder that we are in process, and they're part of the process," said Tonya Lewis Lee, referring to current and future students.

For the Lee family, it's about passing the batons, creating new legacies and inspiring the next filmmakers for years to come.

© 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.