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Sharpton Urges the Class of 2012 to Make a Name For Themselves as Leaders

Making good on requests to “bring the fire” in his 2012 Morehouse Baccalaureate Service speech, the Rev. Al Sharpton urged the College’s nearly 500 graduating seniors to go out into the world and make a name for themselves.

“Tomorrow, you will become graduates of a great…respected institution,” he said to capacity audiences in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, the Bank of America Auditorium and the Executive Conference Center on May 19. “As people talk about the history of Morehouse and how it has produced great Morehouse Men, the issue before you is not the Morehouse Men of the past, but what you will interpret as the Morehouse Men of today...Make tomorrow the first of many times we call your name.”

Sharpton chastised, praised, sang and shouted to the delight of a crowd that rose and applauded several times as the veteran civil rights leader touched on the need to focus on issues such as the Trayvon Martin shooting, gay marriage and getting behind President Barack Obama’s re-election effort.

But his message was directed towards the class of 2012 and their responsibility as future global leaders.

“The challenge that you face is that you have to get us across the river -- the river where there is health care and equal opportunity and a fair criminal justice system,” he said. “That’s the challenge you have. Don’t just be experts on the past Morehouse Men. Focus on what today’s Morehouse Man is going to do about today and the future.”

“I see smoke,” the Rev. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., dean of the King Chapel said after Sharpton’s speech.

Afterwards, two oil portraits were unveiled: one each of Sharpton and President Robert Franklin ’75, who is stepping down in 2012. Both portraits will hang in King Chapel’s International Hall of Honor.

The Baccalaureate ceremony was part of myriad activities over the weekend for Commencement/Reunion 2012. The highlight will be Sunday’s 128th Commencement.

But the rousing Baccalaureate service was the College’s final religious sendoff for the class of 2012.

“It is a final tribute, according to the College’s prophetic liberal arts tradition,” said Robert C. Davidson ’67, chairman of the Morehouse College Board of Trustees. “It is our expectation that you will become the life of every man and woman who comes into this world,”

To view the 2012 Baccalaureate Service or get more information about Commencement/Reunion 2012, go to