Homecoming 1986: A comparative analysis of pageantry in the AUC

Homecoming 1986: A comparative analysis of pageantry in the AUC

The following photo collections document the cultural standards of Clark Atlanta University* and Spelman College through the lens of pageantry. This section provides a closer look at the photographs selected to represent women who are crowned “campus royalty”. What does each photo, candid or posed, entail about the expectations of women at each institution? Do the same expectations exist in contemporary times?

*Clark Atlanta University was established in 1988 through the consolidation of its two parent institutions, Atlanta University and Clark College.

Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College Homecoming Coronation of 1986

This collection compares the yearbook spreads of Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College Homecoming Coronation of 1986. Yearbooks reflect an institution's beliefs, customs, and cultural standards and traditions. The yearbook spread for Spelman’s Coronation are all captioned and posed photographs. The selected photographs showcase models posing directly for the camera ahead of them. Each model is posed with what appears to be a forced or staged smile, the corners of the mouth are extra high, and more of the teeth are exposed. The yearbook’s selection of posed photographs depict how Spelman students are required to “keep smiling” or maintain an image that reflects the institution’s narrative of students. The yearbook spread for Clark Atlanta’s Coronation consists of candid or “in the moment” photographs and are not captioned. They depict the moments of the Coronation’s programming such as a dance performance and ROTC salutations. Models are seen engaging with each other and stills were taken in action such as walking or waving. Clark Atlanta’s selection of candid photos depict a liveliness of the event rather than Spelman’s ceremonious depiction of Coronation.

First Attendant and Second Attendant Yearbook Spreads of Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University (1986)

This collection compares the First Attendant and Second Attendant yearbook spreads of Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. Spelman’s models are posed alone and the photos are captioned with a brief bio of both students. The spread consists of two photographs per attendant. Both photographs are from the night of Coronation. Clark Atlanta’s models are seen alone and grouped in candid and posed photographs. The spread consists of eight photographs per attendant. Photos depict attendants at the Homecoming football game and the night of the Coronation. The models are engaged and posed in group photos. The variety of photographs provide a broader context of both attendants on Clark Atlanta’s campus in comparison to the couple of stills and brief bios of Spelman’s attendants from Coronation night. It is important to note that the bios of each Spelman attendant emphasize an image of Spelman students. By providing a bio, viewers are given a narrative of the attendants.


Spelman College. Reflections, 1986. Print. Archives, Robert W. Woodruff Library.

Clark College. The Panther 1986: Emphasis on Excellence, Then and Now, 1986. Print. Archives, Robert W. Woodruff Library.


In Adrian George’s The Curator’s Handbook, I learned curating has evolved into a multifaceted profession. A curator is probably best known as the selector and interpreter of works of art for an exhibition; however, the role now incorporates those of producer, commissioner, exhibition planner, educator, manager and organizer. The most personal form of curating was exemplified in Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood’s Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, where she detailed the curated prison cell of artist Ronnie Goodman. She mentioned his intentional selection of artwork that is exhibited upon the walls of his cell. I am influenced by Atlanta University Center’s Martina Dodd, Souls Grown Deep Foundation’s Paris-Based curator Raina Lampkins-Fielder, and Antwaun Sargent. I look forward to contributing to transformative long-term curatorial projects that will expand the contemporary and historical canon of art history.

Janiya Douglas, Spelman College| C'2022