By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
The 700 Morehouse freshmen sat inside the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, forming rows of distinguished young men from all over the world, in white dress shirts and matching maroon and white ties.
"I wish the world could see this," said President Robert M. Franklin '75.
Soon, they would all be bonded by the beloved Morehouse school color, maroon.
The occasion was one of the newer traditions installed by Franklin: the presentation of "The Coat of the Mystique." Each group of freshmen since Franklin became president in 2007 has received a single-breasted, maroon blazer, which is emblazoned with the school seal.
"This blazer is a symbol," the president said. "It's not just an article of clothing. It, more than anything that hangs in your closet, is a symbol."
That symbol represents unity, hope and service, he said.
"It's a symbol of unity in a world that expects so little of men. When we come together, we declare that the Morehouse brotherhood is real. When people see two or three or more of you in your blazers, it is art. It is hope."
William Bynum, vice president for Student Services, explained how the specially made wool jacket needed to be cared for and for what occasions the men needed to wear the blazer (Opening Convocation, Homecoming Crown Forum, Commencement, Founder's Day and other special events).
"Wear it when you want to visually show the world that you are prepared to live up to the ideals of Morehouse," he said. "So anytime you don that blazer, you have to don that mindset. That's when you visually say to the world, 'I am Morehouse College. I am a Renaissance Man."
Before leading them in the singing of "Dear Old Morehouse," Henry Goodgame, director of Alumni Relations, Special Events and Annual Giving, told the men: "Gentleman, you may now put on your blazers."
At that moment, the nearly 700 men of Morehouse took another important step closer to becoming Morehouse Men.