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President’s Opening Convocation Speech Urges Students to Become Community Deliverers


(Sept. 17, 2009) – Christian Bell was looking for some early semester inspiration. He believes he got it from the speech that President Robert M. Franklin Jr. ’75 gave during the 23rd Opening Convocation in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel.

Franklin told the biblical story of Moses being set adrift in a basket on the Nile River, the same river that claimed endless bodies of male children that were being systematically persecuted. The Pharaoh’s daughter discovered him and allowed the woman who turned out to be his mother, to nurse him until he grew up.

“You have been delivered here. You have been placed in a basket and laid here on our shore, with hopes that you will become a Moses – a deliverer, one who will draw out the best of our community,” Franklin said.

It was just the story Bell, a sophomore from Cleveland, Ohio, said he and his classmates needed to get him ready for the new semester.

“And it uplifts me to learn I’m not here on my own and that other brothers are working just as hard as I am to get ready to be leaders,” he said.

The annual convocation serves as the ceremonial beginning of the new academic year at Morehouse, bringing the entire campus community together to get inspired and ready for a new year.

Franklin also called for a moment of silence to honor the memory of Spelman sophomore Jasmine Lynn. Lynn died after being hit by a stray bullet during a Sept. 3 altercation she was not involved in at Clark Atlanta University.

The president reaffirmed the safety efforts of all of the Atlanta University Center presidents and asked that anyone with information on the incident come forward.

“Senseless violence of this kind is a threat,” he said. “But I assure you that it is this college’s priority to heighten existing measures and to institute new measures, all of us working together to promote greater safety on the Morehouse campus, the entire Atlanta University Center community and indeed the neighborhoods that surround and support our campus.”

The occasion also served as an opportunity to honor longtime Atlanta arts icon, Richard A. Long. Long, the Haygood Professor Emeritus of Interdisciplinary Studies at Emory University, was presented the Presidential Award of Distinction.

“We at Morehouse College are pleased to recognize more than 50 years of dedication to your scholarly pursuits, teaching others, and elevating the meaning of the arts in our community,” Franklin said.

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