GREENSBORO, North Carolina — Five million dollars in 50 days. That was the goal Bennett College set to prove financial stability to Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The accrediting body removed the school back in December, but Bennett appealed that decision and raised three-point-two million dollars more than their goal, but Bennett isn't out of the woods quite yet.
Bennett College President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins, heads to Atlanta Monday to plead Bennett's case before a committee.
They should get an answer in two weeks.
If Bennett does not keep their accreditation, President Dawkins says they will apply for another accreditation through Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
In the meantime, three women from the class of 1975 share what their experiences at Bennett meant to them and what's at stake.
"Bennett saw hope in me. They saw potential in me and they validated what I saw in myself, Dr. Yardley Nelson Hunter said.
"Bennett just shaped me, and by the time I graduated, I felt like a very confident woman," A. Jean Jackson said.
From the start, student life on campus was more than just classes.
"Bennett women are known to promote civic engagement and social justice and I think that's where we are strong," President Dr. Dawkins said.
Bennett Belles protested segregation at the National Theater downtown. The college was the only place in Greensboro to allow Martin Luther King Jr. to speak in 1958. Belles also helped plan and participated in the Woolworth's sit-ins.
"Bennett is a pillar in the Greensboro community and there's a purpose and a reason for Bennett to be here," Pat Davis-Thompson said.
A legacy of activism stands to be lost.
If Bennett loses their accreditation, worst case scenario they would have to close their doors. But all these women have faith Bennett will come out on top.
"We believe in our young black women. I want you to know that we are a forced to be reckoned with," Dr. Hunter said
Sisterhood is something ingrained in all students who attend Bennett. Davis-Thompson says that means all the women are connected by a special bond no matter the year they attended.
"There's been a lot of people who shoulders I stayed on as I went through Bennett and I feel as if my shoulders are there for other young women." Davis-Thompson said.
Dr. Nelson, Jackson, and Davis-Thompson are grateful for what Bennett brought to them and hope other women can feel the same for generations to come.
"My life would not be anywhere of what it is now without Bennett College," Jackson said.