151st Morehouse Founder’s Day ConvocationDate Released: February 19, 2018
By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
In a new era of growing racial strife, we need only to look back at the things the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ’48 spoke out against during the heyday of the civil rights movement, said renowned social ethicist Gary Dorrien, the speaker for Morehouse College’s 151st Founder’s Day Convocation on Thursday, Feb. 15.
Dorrien pointed to three reforms King advocated, particularly in his Riverside Church speech a year before his death.
“The reforms were to terminate racial discrimination in housing, establish a minimum guaranteed income, and to end America’s global militarism,” Dorrien said. “Meanwhile, he tried to build a multiracial poor people’s movement for social justice, beginning with a march of the poor in Washington, D.C. Fifty years later, these reform objectives and the dream of a mighty movement of the poor are still highly relevant.
“The story of the civil rights movement illuminates like no other story the miserable trauma we are living through today because white supremacy, anti-blackness, and the struggle against pessimism and despair are still very much our problems. All this is despite electing a gifted and accomplished black president— and also because of it,” he said.
Dorrien’s address was just one of the highlights of the annual Founder’s Day Convocation in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and guests gathered to celebrate the College’s beginnings in 1867 at Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga., as the Augusta Institute.
“As we reflect upon this special occasion marking the 151st year of the founding of the institution that we know as Morehouse College, we understand that the purposes for which we were founded are enduring, and that our mission to train men for lives of leadership and service is evergreen and everlasting,” said Morehouse Provost and Senior Vice President Michael Hodge.
The occasion marked the first convocation for the College’s new President, Dr. David A. Thomas, who was greeted by a standing ovation.
“Your welcome to me in my five weeks on this campus as your President has been warm and loving,” he said. “And you also have met me with an urgency of now—your sense and my sense that now is the time to aim our sights on making a greater Morehouse for the 21st century.”
He then asked the Morehouse senior class to stand.
“You are the tip of the spear, the spear of an idea that was born 151 years ago,” he said. “That idea is that black and brown men can thrive and be in a society designed at its inception to exploit, exclude, and degrade you. You are the tip of a spear of an idea that black and brown men, and those of other hues, can be a brotherhood of shared values of social justice, inclusion, spirituality, human dignity, excellence, and equality. And that brotherhood can create a better world.
“I so believe in your potential as demonstrated by men who have come before you and those in the classes that follow you, that I will do everything in my power to gain the resources, assemble the faculty and staff, and create the culture that ensures the Morehouse of the 21st century will be as powerful a force for transformation as the Morehouse of the 20th century,” Thomas said.
Last Modified: February 19, 2018, 17:02 PM, by: Synera Shelton