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Dr. George Sale becomes President. (1890-1906)

State-of-the-art Leadership Center opens. Later named for Dr. Walter E. Massey ’58.


Opening of $20-million Ray Charles Performing Arts Center and Music Academic Building.

2012 Dr. Wiley Abron Perdue ’57 becomes third Acting President of Morehouse.

Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel dedicated in 1978. Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr. begins work in 1979 as founding Chapel dean. Dr. Hugh M. Gloster ’31 becomes first College alumnus to serve as President. (1967-1987)

Morehouse completes its most ambitious capital campaign, raising $118 million.

Jeh Johnson ‘79 named U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

Dr. Robert M. Franklin ’75 becomes 10th Morehouse President. (2007-2012) Journalist Ron Thomas launches Morehouse College Journalism and Sports Program. Funds include $1 million from Spike Lee ’79 and $1 million from Charles Barkley in 2015.

Cinema, Technology & Emerging Media Studies Program established, for the intellectual and artistic study of film and television.


2006 2007

Nima Warfield ’94 is first Rhodes Scholar from an HBCU.


1987 Morehouse students stage a protest by taking Board of Trustees hostage to protest curriculum and school governance.

Dr. Leroy Keith Jr. ’61 named eighth President of Morehouse.

U.S. President Barack Obama gives Commencement address.


Dr. Walter E. Massey ’58 takes office as ninth President of Morehouse. (1995-2007) Forbes Arena, a 5,700-seat gymnasium is erected and used as basketball venue for 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.

Phi Beta Kappa chapter established at Morehouse.

Dr. Willis B. Sheftall Jr. ’64 serves as fourth Acting President.

Spike Lee ‘79 awarded honorary Oscar for film direction, including Oscar-nominated “Do the Right Thing.”

For the first time in College history, Morehouse has three valedictorians: Liam Davis, Ian Niemeyer and Willie Thompson.

Morehouse celebrates Sesquicentennial. William “Bill” James Taggart assumes role of Interim President. Dr. Tobe Johnson ’54 retires as longestserving faculty member in College’s 150-year history. Interim President William “Bill” James Taggart passes away unexpectedly on June 8. Harold Martin Jr. ’02 appointed Interim President.


Credit: AUC Woodruff Library Digital Exhibits



Morehouse College celebrates its Centennial. “A Candle in the Dark: A History of Morehouse College,” by Edward A. Jones ’26 is published.

Dr. Louis W. Sullivan ‘54 named Secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Anne Watts, known as “Mother Morehouse,” retires after nearly 40 years at the College.

Dr. John S. Wilson ’79 becomes 11th College President. (2013-2017)

“A Candle in the Dark” Gala founded to raise scholarship funds.


Dr. Samuel H. Archer becomes fifth College President. Gives school its colors, maroon and white. (1931-1937)



Martin Luther King Jr. graduates from Morehouse.

Edwin Moses ’78 wins gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles at Montreal Summer Olympics.



The Atlanta University Affiliation is established with Morehouse, Spelman College, and Atlanta University. Later called the Atlanta University Center consortium (AUC).

Morehouse College receives full accreditation from Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Founding of the School of Medicine at Morehouse College.


Atlanta Baptist College changes name to Morehouse College to honor Henry Lyman Morehouse, corresponding secretary of American Baptist Home Mission.



Graves Hall constructed.

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays becomes sixth Morehouse President. (1940-1967)

Last of the “Morehouse Women” graduate.


Book “History of Morehouse College” by Benjamin Brawley ’1901 published.

Dr. Joseph T. Robert becomes first school President on April 1. (1871-1884)




1897 1889


David Foster Estes serves as Acting President.

School changes its name to Atlanta Baptist College.

Morehouse College celebrates Semicentennial.



Morehouse College admits women. Thirtythree eventually become full graduates.

Dr. Charles D. Hubert serves as second Acting President.


Institute moves to Atlanta’s Friendship Baptist Church. Becomes Atlanta Baptist Seminary.

Dr. John Hope named fourth College President. (1906-1931)


Dr. Samuel T. Graves becomes second President. School moves to current site in Atlanta’s West End community. (1885-1890)







Augusta Institute founded on Feb. 14 at Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga., by the Rev. William Jefferson White, with the Rev. Richard C. Coulter and the Rev. Edmund Turney.

Dr. David A. Thomas appointed as the 12th President of Morehouse College, ushering in a new era of leadership for the 150-year-old historically black institution.

Henry L. Morehouse

Board of Trustees Appoints 12th Morehouse President

History of

Morehouse College

Descendant Remembers The Talented Tenth

Editor’s Note: Adapted from a piece written by Christal Morehouse, great-great-grandniece of Henry L. Morehouse.


s the great-great-grandniece of Henry L Morehouse, I was delighted to be on campus at Morehouse College to celebrate its 150-year anniversary, together with all those men and women who are Morehouse. While I was on campus, I took the opportunity to better understand my great-great-granduncle by digging into the archives of the Robert Woodruff Library. I was particularly interested in how Henry Morehouse conceptualized the Talented Tenth theory in 1896, and how this idea spread to W.E.B. Du Bois by 1903. Here, below, are a few things I have discovered. Historical records show that Henry published the Talented Tenth theory on April 23, 1896, introducing the idea in an editorial on the front page of The Independent, a Congregationalist weekly magazine. Within a few months, Henry circulated the editorial in the American Missionary journal, a monthly magazine on religious topics and Baptist missionary work. Henry voiced his Talented Tenth theory in the same year that the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Plessy vs. Ferguson case, ratifying state-sanctioned segregation in the South (1896). W.E.B. Du Bois adapted the concept and reintroduced it into

academic and public debates seven years later, in 1903. It would be W.E.B. Du Bois who allowed the idea to travel, and yet how it spread between Henry and Du Bois remains unclear. Also, the nuance between the two men’s versions of the Talented Tenth has gone unnoticed by historians. Back in 1896, Henry’s idea challenged mainstream, racist notions on limiting black men from having access to higher education. He was working to counteract the idea that vocational training was “enough,” an idea embodied most prominently by Booker T. Washington … Washington argued for the slow accumulation of rights for the “freedmen” and for continued segregation, stating: “No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.” Henry felt that higher education for all was the key to social progress and cohesion in America. Henry’s simple metaphor of the Talented Tenth would likely have been lost to history, had Du Bois not taken it back to the public stage seven years later. It was Du Bois’ voice that would allow the Talented Tenth notion to echo through time. And yet not only seven years separate Henry’s and Du Bois’ Talented Tenth

publications; the two men’s ideas were also not identical. Despite the similarities in their exposition of the Talented Tenth, the men interpreted the role of race in social progress differently. First let’s look at the overlap of the two versions of the Talented Tenth. In both cases the Talented Tenth refers to a number of “Negro” men, highly capable individuals, who through higher education mature into intellectual and social leaders (Morehouse 1896; Du Bois 1903). The Talented Tenth in both cases is an agent for collective social change. Both men’s expositions of the idea imply that those talented individuals will exercise their leadership in a way that betters (at least) the communities from which they hail. Implicit in Henry’s and Du Bois’ ideas is that any social group categorically excluded from higher education will become trapped in socioeconomic and political deprivation. Now let’s examine the differences. Du Bois’ approach promotes self-improvement within a group (among blacks in America): “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men (Du Bois September 1903).” In contrast, Henry’s framework advocates social co-development across groups, and argues for a unified America. For Henry, self-betterment of any one group meant the co-development and unity of the whole nation.

Christal Morehouse does research in the Woodruff Library; Morehouse confers with Lawrence E. Carter Sr., College archivist and dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel

What remains a mystery is how Henry devised his version of the Talented Tenth and how the idea circulated between Henry and Du Bois. I would hypothesize that Henry was inspired by an inverse concept: the Submerged Tenth. William Booth first described it in 1890 in the book “In Darkest England and the Way Out.” In this publication, Booth described the lowest social stratum of English society, a social class unable to achieve any social mobility when unaided by other social groups (Booth 1890). The Talented Tenth, as Henry conceived it, seems to be the inverse of the submerged tenth. It describes a group that is swimming in intellectual potential, potential that can be set free through education and that will lead to widespread social mobility. There is evidence that Henry encountered Booth’s notion of the submerged tenth prior to his 1896 publication on the Talented Tenth. Official proceedings show that Henry was at the twenty-second session of the National Conference of Charities and Correction between May 24 and 30, 1895 (Barrows 1895). At this conference, the association president, Robert Treat Paine, and F. H. Nibecker, superintendent of the Pennsylvania House of Refuge, both spoke of the submerged tenth in their addresses.

At the same conference, Nibecker read his statement, “The Influence of Children in their Homes After Institution Life,” in his address on Juvenile Reformation. Interestingly, the idea of the submerged tenth seems to have traveled to W.E.B. Du Bois. Several years after Booth, in 1899, Du Bois, in his book “The Philadelphia Negro,” defined one of his four “grades” of poverty as the “submerged tenth.” The Talented Tenth was a revolutionary idea at the turn of the 20th century. But today’s world has both old and new challenges. It is not our men, but the whole of society that must develop together. The time has come for a new, revolutionary idea, perhaps one that would focus attention on the Talented Tenth, admitting no justification for leaving any man or woman “submerged.”

Education can lift up every member of our society and it should not be a privilege for any subgroup or “tenth” of our society. M

The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races.” — THE NEGRO PROBLEM, W.E.B. DU BOIS


ounded in 1867 in the basement of Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga., by the Rev. William Jefferson White, with the encouragement of former slave the Rev. Richard C. Coulter and the Rev. Edmund Turney of the National Theological Institute, Morehouse College has had a 150-year legacy of producing educated men and global leaders. Starting as Augusta Institute under the first President, Dr. Joseph T. Robert, the institution was created to educate black men for careers in ministry and teaching. At the urging of the Rev. Frank Quarles, the school moved to Atlanta’s Friendship Baptist Church in 1879 and changed its named to the Atlanta Baptist Seminary. The Seminary moved to downtown Atlanta, and then soon after to a former Civil War battleground site in Atlanta’s West End under President Samuel Graves in 1885. By 1897 under President George Sale, the institution became Atlanta Baptist College. Atlanta Baptist College expanded its curriculum and established a tradition of educating leaders for all American life. During the tenure of the College’s first African American President, John Hope, the College was re-named Morehouse College in 1913, in honor of Henry L. Morehouse, the corresponding

secretary of the National Baptist Home Mission Society. Samuel Archer lead the College as President during the Great Depression, giving the College its adopted colors of maroon and white. Beginning in the 1940s, the College’s international reputation in scholarship, leadership and service began to flourish, particularly as then-President Benjamin E. Mays oversaw the increase of faculty members with doctoral degrees, accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the establishment of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Under President Hugh M. Gloster, the first alumnus to serve as President, the College expanded its endowment to more than $29 million, completed a $20-million fund-raising campaign and added 12 new campus buildings. The Morehouse School of Medicine was founded during this time, becoming independent in 1981. During the administration of eighth President, Dr. Leroy Keith Jr., the College’s endowment increased to more than $60 million, with faculty salaries and student scholarships also increasing. Buildings such as the Nabrit-MappMcBay Hall and the Thomas Kilgore Jr. Campus Center were constructed and the College produced its first Rhodes Scholar, Nima A. Warfield. The College’s “A Candle in the Dark” Gala was

founded in 1989 to raise scholarship funds during this time. Ninth President Dr. Walter E. Massey ’58 ushered in a 21-century approach to learning. His vision was for the College to become the nation’s best liberal arts college. Morehouse leaders expanded the College’s dual-degree program in natural sciences, launched the Center for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Mathematics, and established a new African American studies program. The Andrew Young Center for International Affairs was established in 1993 and the Morehouse Leadership Program was established in 1995. These were combined into a new Center in 2012, named the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership, for the former United Nations ambassador. The Davidson House Center for Excellence, the President’s official residence and a mini-conference center, was constructed during this time, as was The Leadership Center, and the John H. Hopps Technology Tower. Two more students became Rhodes Scholars: Chris Elders in 2002 and Oluwabusayo “Tope” Folarin in 2004. By June 2006, the College successfully completed its most ambitious capital campaign, raising a record $112 million, exceeding the Campaign’s goal of $105 million. The same year,

Dr. David A. Thomas has been appointed as the 12th President of Morehouse College, ushering in a new era of leadership for the 150-year-old historically black institution. Dr. Thomas is the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and former Dean of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. Thomas’ appointment ends a six-month period of leadership transition at the College that began in April when the Board announced its national search for a new Morehouse President. The Presidential Search Committee, assisted by Issacson, Miller recruiters, reviewed the profiles of more than 100 executives for the role, including several sitting college presidents. Thomas was chosen as the top candidate because of his visionary leadership as a business school administrator, and his proven track record in fundraising, which includes a successful capital campaign that raised $130 million in five years for Georgetown’s McDonough Business School. “Dr. Thomas is a nationally respected business educator and visionary leader with a support network that will bring transformative change to Morehouse College,” said Willie Woods ’85, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “Having

Morehouse became the custodian of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection, more than 13,000 hand-written notes, sermons, letters, books and other artifacts belonging to King, the College’s most noted alumnus. Dr. Robert M. Franklin Jr. ’75 became President in 2007 and led the institution forward with his vision of the “Morehouse Renaissance,” further elevating public confidence in the College’s stature as a premier institution providing quality education and enhancing institution’s intellectual and moral dimension. He accomplished this in part by establishing the “Five Wells,” about developing men of Morehouse with social conscience and global perspective who were well-read, well-spoken, well-traveled, welldressed, and well-balanced. Franklin oversaw the completion of a $20-million project started by Massey, the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center and Music Academic Building, a facility named after the late legendary musician. He also led cultivation efforts that increased the total number of new donors at the College by 4,500. The College generated more than $68 million in institutional funds and $60 million in restricted funds from federal sources, including Congressional appropriations and competitive federal grants.

David at Morehouse will raise the profile of our world-class institution and lead to partnerships that will allow Morehouse to be more competitive for top students, expand our academic programs, improve our facilities, and provide more signature opportunities for leadership that make Morehouse Men among the most sought-after graduates in the country.” Thomas has 30 years of higher education experience. He holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior Studies and a Master of Philosophy in Organizational Behavior degree from Yale University. He also has a Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in Administrative Sciences degree from Yale University. Thomas assumes office Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, leaving Morehouse under the experienced guidance of Interim President Harold Martin Jr. ’02 until the end of the calendar year. “I am humbled and honored to be appointed as the next President of Morehouse College,” said Thomas. “What draws me to Morehouse in this moment is that I see a connection between what I value and what this college has always represented—the mission to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service, and to be stewards of black culture and community. There is no place like Morehouse on the planet. One of the priorities that I have for us in a very short time is to engage in a major capital campaign. At the top of the priority list would be increasing funds available for scholarships for our students.”

In 2013, Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr. ’79 was named the College’s 11th President. He and his team were champions of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) initiatives and significantly increased the College’s private gifts, grants and contracts. During his tenure, computer science major Prince Abudu became the College’s fourth Rhodes Scholar. Wilson played a pivotal role in bringing President Barack Obama to Morehouse as the 2013 Commencement speaker and in hosting Vice President Joseph Biden in 2015. William “Bill” James Taggart assumed the role of Interim President of the College in 2017 after serving as chief operating officer since 2015. A results-driven leader in the private and public sectors, Taggart had more than 30 years of experience with Fortune 500 companies, higher education, and federal agencies. Tragically, just two months after his appointment, Taggart suddenly passed away in June 2017. Harold Martin Jr. ’02 was appointed Interim President in June 2017, becoming the youngest person to lead the College since 1913. Martin Jr. has an extensive background in advising senior executives at higher

education institutions and Fortune 500 companies. A summa cum laude graduate and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Martin Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law School. He was associate partner at McKinsey & Company, an international management consulting firm where he helped academic institutions solve complex strategic, financial, and organizational challenges. He led the firm’s Higher Education Practice which studied higher education trends and best practices by leading colleges and universities. Since leaving the firm in 2014, Martin Jr. has built a successful, independent consulting practice and private investment firm. Martin Jr. is building on the momentum started by Taggart in working with Morehouse’s Board, students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni and donors to solidify the College’s position as an academic leader and to expand giving at the College. His leadership allows Morehouse to continue its long and unique history of developing men with disciplined minds who lead lives of leadership and service to students now representing 35 states and 17 countries. Martin Jr. will head the College through December 2017. Newly appointed President Dr. David Thomas begins his tenure Jan. 1, 2018. M

Morehouse College 150th Historical Timeline