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Moss Urges Morehouse to Use Its Voice and Vision to Influence the World

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

A celebration of the Morehouse legacy involves more than honoring an illustrious past, said the Rev. Otis Moss Jr. ’56 during Morehouse’s Thursday, Feb. 14 Founder’s Day Convocation. He said the annual celebration is also about a commitment to service.

“It’s a mission of Morehouse to…teach future generations that the pursuit of excellence is less than the cost of mediocrity,” he said.

An enthusiastic audience of students, faculty, staff and alumni filled the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel for the Convocation, which commemorated the College’s 141st anniversary. It is part of a historic week in which, among other events, President Robert M. Franklin Jr. ’75 will be inaugurated Friday and seven men will be honored during Saturday’s sold out “A Candle in the Dark” Gala and Inaugural Ball.

The College was founded in 1867 in Augusta, Ga., by the Rev. William Jefferson White, with the encouragement of the Rev. Richard C. Coulter, a former slave from Augusta.

“What we do here today has been done for 140 years,” Franklin said. “And we are all privileged today in this 141st year to carry on this noble practice.”
Thursday, Moss captivated the audience by urging them to take the learned traditions of Morehouse beyond the campus and into their communities.

“We must challenge every act of every product of disrespect and integrity, whether that product is on a station called BET or whether that product comes by way of some misguided individual who thinks that women are tools and toys to be used, misused and abused,” Moss said to loud applause.

“We must be a voice, a vision, a way in this century,” he said. “And we must be a voice that speaks to the critical issues of our age, even when it is unpopular or dangerous to do so. We must be a voice.”

Also honored during the Convocation with presidential citations for their long history of service to the College were Roswell O. Sutton ’41 and the late Clarence R. “Kappa” Brown Sr. ’40.

Later at 2 p.m., five renowned scholars paid tribute to Franklin’s presidency during the Inaugural Symposium, “Culture, Spiritual Values and the Pursuit of Excellence in Higher Education,” held at the Bank of American Auditorium in the Executive Conference Center.

Clayborne Carson, professor and founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, likened Franklin’s dedication to spiritual, cultural and educational values to the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ’48.

“I think that’s a good way of telling about the meaning of King’s life as he would want it remembered,” Carson said. “I think that’s the model of spiritual leadership that I would see President Franklin representing.”

Other panelists included Harold V. Bennett, associate professor, religion, Morehouse College; Edward Blum, professor, San Diego State University; Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, director, African American Studies Program, Colby College and Martin E. Marty, professor emeritus, University of Chicago.

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