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Are we living up to the leadership legacy?

By Jeffrey Anderson '97

As an admissions representative, I have the opportunity to travel and witness to thousands of people across the country about the legacy of leadership that we hold dear at “The House.”

Our posters profess our ability to develop countless generations of leaders. We publicize the accomplishments of our alumni, who range from Maynard H. Jackson ’56 to actor Samuel L. Jackson ’72. But the issue that we must constantly face is not if leadership is part of our reputation, but whether it is truly part of our daily practices.

There is no question that we are held in high esteem among our peers. Our curriculum prepares students to become valuable assets in the professional and social communities. Our campus provides mentors, all of whom set examples of the confidence and charisma that quality leaders possess.

But are we really living up to the leadership legacy, or are we allowing leadership to be a matter of reputation? Leaders constantly remind themselves and others of the importance of building an inheritance for others to recite and live.

Indeed, the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. ’48 directs us to remember: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in comfort and convenience, but where he stands in conflict and controversy.”

In the shadow of Graves Hall, Benjamin E. Mays’ granite resting place stands as a beacon, telling us “not failure, but low aim is sin.”

If we travel down the pathway a little further we’ll encounter the building dedicated to another leader whose very name reminds us that we represent more than the present manifestations of past struggles: John Hope, the first black president of Morehouse.

The legacy of leadership the College forefathers gave to us should be more than a word we toss around when parents call, when interested students visit or when we inform the public about what’s happening at Morehouse. It has to be more than a class we take or a building we raise money to construct.

Leadership must be part of our lifestyle.

Everyday, faculty, staff and students quote our past leaders. But leaders aren’t always found in such high places as the big screen or public office. They are in the classroom and offices around the Morehouse campus. When was the last time one of us repeated the wisdom of the student in a political science class or the poignant saying of an administrative assistant? Truth is, we all possess the capacity to lead.

When Morehouse was named Black Enterprise’s No. 1 collegiate choice for African American students, President Walter E. Massey ’58 said the College is “aiming even higher as we move into the 21st century” to become the best liberal arts college in the nation. But we must live up to the task and the responsibility that entails.

“To lead, you must be willing to put in the work,” Massey said. And that’s the legacy that we must manifest.

Jeffrey Anderson ’97 is a recruiter in the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

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