HBCU Chess Spotlight: Spelman College

Jamila Thompson is a graduating senior at Spelman College. The native New Yorker was taught chess by her father and continued her passion as a collegiate. While at Spelman, she joined other chess players in the Atlanta University Center (AUC) to match wits. Morehouse College hosted the club meetings and Thompson would attend along with a few others from Spelman, including Shaniah Francis, the co-founder of The Black Odyssey Chess Society.

Both Francis and Alan Cowan of Morehouse had an idea to host an HBCU chess tournament with the idea of starting a network. Thompson and three other Spelman students attended the first event hosted at Morris Brown College. However, she was the only one remaining as the others had graduated. When asked if there were players at Spelman, she replied she was the only one. Of course, there are always chess players around, but to get them assembled in an organized fashion is the challenge.

Spelman at the 2023 HBCU Chess Classic
Spelman at the 2023 HBCU Chess Classic
Spelman at the 2024 HBCU Chess Classic
Spelman at the 2024 HBCU Chess Classic

Thompson graduated this month. As she heads back to New York with a newly-minted psychology degree, she is considering her options after taking a “gap year.” Thompson spoke with The Chess Drum about her experience at the HBCU Chess Festival tournaments and chess at the AUC.

Jamila Thompson, Spelman College

Video by Daaim Shabazz/The Chess Drum

Meet the Kings & Queens of HBCU Chess!

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