I am grateful and proud of many things, including my selection of a Historic Black College, Morehouse College. I made the determination that I would attend Morehouse College when I was in the 8th grade. My eighth grade homeroom teacher, the late Mr. Charles Sheftall was a graduate of Morehouse. The organist for my home church, the late Mr. George Espy, Jr. was a Morehouse man. My childhood pastor – the one who baptized, licensed and ordained me to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ – was a Morehouse man. His son, Ellis S. Evans, Jr. graduated from Morehouse and my pastor’s two daughters, Esther and Emily (deceased), were graduates of Spelman College, Morehouse’s sister school that is located across the street from each other. His wife, the late Mrs. Irene Perry Evans was a graduate of Fort Valley State College, the college of my father and most of his siblings and my brother (Ricardo) and sister (Kimberly). Because I was born in 1959, most of the African American teachers who taught me in elementary and high school graduated from HBCUs.
In junior high school, I was a part of a program that sought to encourage minority students to consider careers in the health professions. That group took a trip to the Atlanta University Center for a conference. Most of the activities were on Morehouse’s campus. Although the campus had its challenges, especially with older buildings and the lack of things that would impress a potential student, I was impressed.
Equally so, I heard the Morehouse College Glee Club in concert at Macon’s Grand Opera House and attended a reception afterwards. The reception became a recruiting event and the director of the Glee Club, the late Dr. Wendell P. Whalum, Sr., a graduate of Morehouse, shared why we should consider Morehouse. Based on those two experiences and seeing the character traits and commitments of many Morehouse men in Macon and knowing that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a graduate of Morehouse, I decided that I was attending and graduating from Morehouse College. I wanted to become a Morehouse Man!
Thanks to the grace of God and many doors opening exactly when they needed to open, I graduated from Morehouse College on my father’s birthday, Sunday, May 17, 1981. Morehouse was the only college I applied to and the only institution that mattered.
There are 107 historic Black colleges and universities in the United States. These historic institutions were organized or chartered prior to 1964. Many of them were supported by various Christian denominations. These schools primarily designed to meet the academic needs of African Americans, never discriminated against other races from attending.
The desegregation of colleges and universities opened the door for African American students to enroll in majority White institutions. Many HBCUs began struggling to maintain enrollments, endowments, and support academic programs. Many have closed, some to unfortunate situations of governance, mismanagement, and micromanagement, others because of dwindling enrollments and the inability to compete against larger, financially secure institutions.
Many Tabernacle members attended HBCUs. I hope that we are supporting these academic gems in all the ways they need our support. Amen.