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Baccalaureate Speaker Tells Men of Morehouse That Greatness Takes Time

(May 18, 2013) -- "This will be the greatest Sunday morning since the resurrection of Christ."


For a fraction of a second, the stunning statement hung in the air. The audience murmured and shifted, unsure of how to respond.


Was the statement mere hyperbole?  Or was it something more akin to blasphemy?


A smattering of claps gained momentum then erupted into thunderous applause in the sacred nave of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel during the Baccalaureate Service. Turns out Andrew Miller '11, delivering the baccalaureate hermeneutics (along with Olusegun Idowu ’12) had aptly captured the excitement, the pride, the intoxicating thrill of welcoming President Barack Obama as Commencement speaker on the next day, Sunday, May 19.


But on Saturday, the eve of Commencement, the College traditionally focuses on encouraging students to reflect on their spiritual journey on the day before they officially become Morehouse Men.


“This is the time to pause and look up and say, ‘If it had not been for the Lord on my side, where would I be?’” said Morehouse president, John Silvanus Wilson Jr. ’79.


Baccalaureate speaker, the Rev. Dr. Kevin Rae Miles Johnson, senior pastor of Bright Hope Church in Philadelphia, delivered a sermon titled "Dare To Be an Eagle."


Given that a chicken—which according to Johnson is the least impressive bird in the bird species—produced offspring every month or so, while an eagle only once a year, demonstrated that greatness takes time, he said.


“We must confess that it takes time to produce greatness,” said Johnson. “W.E.B. DuBois didn’t become a scholar overnight … Martin Luther King Jr. ’48 didn’t just come up with ‘I have a dream’ because he never had a nightmare.”


At the beginning of his speech, peering at the 577 gown-clad graduates taking up almost the entire center of King Chapel, Johnson remarked: “It never gets old. This is a beautiful sight to behold, and I wish all of America could see it.”