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Morehouse College Celebrates 144 Years of Education and Service

By ADD SEYMOUR JR.

(Feb. 21, 2011) -- Morehouse celebrated the College’s 144th anniversary in grand style with a host of events, including a summit on black males, a convocation led by one of the nation’s leading preachers and the annual “A Candle in the Dark” Gala.

Alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents and supporters filled the campus last week for the annual Founder’s Day Observance. Several days of events honors the College’s founding by minister William Jefferson White, along with former slave Richard Coulter and the Rev. Edward Turney.

The first classes at what was then known as Augusta Institute were held in 1867, in the basement of Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga.

“We celebrate the longevity of a generative institution and indeed Morehouse’s pursuit of excellence,” said President Robert M. Franklin ’75 during the Founder’s Day Convocation in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on Feb. 17.

“Our founders were visionary men who had little more than idealism and faith to build a legacy of substance,” he said.

Convocation speaker the Rev. Calvin O. Butts III ’71 said Morehouse graduates should reject materialism and commit to a future of service.

“I want to make sure that what we stand for is so unique that our people will never, ever question the loyalty and faith of Morehouse Men,” said Butts, who is senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City and president of the State University of New York at Old Westbury.

“Please, never measure success by the dollar that you make, but by the success that you give,” he added.

Butts was conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for his work in religion, social justice, education and community development. Businessman Arthur J. McClung ’66 and Dr. Robert E. Steele ’65 also were each presented the Presidential Award of Distinction.

On Friday, Feb. 18, experts on African American males – consultant Deborah Prothrow-Stith, Judge Glenda Hatchett, authur and publisher Jawanza Kunjufu, City College of New York sociology professor R.L.’Heureux Lewis ’00, UCLA education and information studies professor Ernest Morrell and Morehouse Male Institute director Bryant Marks ’94 – discussed the perceptions and truths surrounding black men and boys during the 3rd Annual Black Male Summit.

The summit allowed the group to discuss and debate the topic in front of a standing-room-only audience in the Bank of America Auditorium.

“We have to remember there are too many of our boys who don’t feel they are connected, they are empowered, they are worthy and who do not feel hopeful,” said Hatchett. “We have got to figure out how we engage our children, our boys, and love them more than the streets.”

That evening, Grammy-nominated R&B singer Angie Stone and violinist Ken Ford thrilled a King Chapel crowd during the annual Founder’s Day Concert.

The next day, the 2011 Bennie and Candle Award honorees - businessman Curley Dossman ’73; physician Dr. Melvin Gerald ’64; scientist William Jackson ’56; broadcasting pioneer Ronald Davenport; attorney and entrepreneur Donald Watkins; the Rev. Harry Wright ’53; baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson; and Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman – talked about their lives and careers during Reflections of Excellence in the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center.

The eight men were later honored at the sold-out “A Candle in the Dark” Gala in downtown Atlanta. Dossman, Gerald and Jackson were each awarded the Bennie Award, while Davenport, Watkins, Wright, Robinson and Freeman were honored with the Candle Award.

Sunday, the Rev. Ronald Peters, president of the Interdenominational Theological Center, gave the sermon during the Founder’s Day Worship Service. Later in the afternoon, the Morehouse College Glee Club closed out its Centennial Celebration week and reunion with its annual Founder’s Day Concert.

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