“You can tell a Morehouse Man, but you can’t tell him much,” is one of the main reasons why the Morehouse brand currently carries a social stigma. This phrase has generated the belief that the Morehouse community is full of arrogant and conceited black men who have lost touch with those who look like them. The few people who do embrace this false truth have left the rest of their brothers in an unfair position to battle these stereotypes on a national level. This must end.
In his charge to the graduating class of 1961, Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, the sixth president of Morehouse, said, “There is an air of expectancy at Morehouse College. It is expected that the student who enters here will do well. It is also expected that once a man bears the insignia of a Morehouse graduate, he will do exceptionally well. We expect nothing less.”
Dr. Mays’ half-century-old statement has resounded on campus louder than the bell in front of Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. Every time it is read or recited, one word roars louder than the others: expect. Mother Morehouse expects that after she has finished developing young males’ minds, they will create a better tomorrow for the entire black community. Some men of the Morehouse family have confused expect with guarantee, resulting in some students and alumni coasting on the Morehouse brand that others have arduously worked to maintain.
Each Morehouse Man has spent at least four years journeying through campus until their name is called to walk across the threshold into Black manhood. Before that threshold is crossed, Mother Morehouse guides the students as they build the ideal character needed to create a lasting impression on this world. Unfortunately, only a portion of recent graduates can claim character as something they graduated with.
Every August, a new freshman class walks through the gates of the school and into the campus gymnasium only to have their older brothers try to transform them into Black elitists. Freshmen are repeatedly told during the first week of New Student Orientation of the superficial characteristics that Men of Morehouse embody: “Men of Morehouse represent more than the ideal black men,” they say. “We are already leaders who must exude a certain swagger, and our charm and intellect can entice any woman.” Yes, Morehouse does tell their freshman of what is expected, but the bravado has seemed to overshadow the greater good. This is a problem.
On behalf of my brothers, I apologize if you have come to always expect bombastic and pompous Men of Morehouse. However, if you have allowed yourself to falsely characterize the entire Morehouse family based on a few bad interactions, then you are no better. Every day you fight unfounded socially constructed notions about your community, knowing that these cannot be assigned to you or every person that looks like you.
No student at Morehouse, or any HBCU, should have the unfounded belief that they are a different breed. The smallest amount of time finding flaws in your brother and sister school is counterproductive, whether it is in good fun or not. This breeds hatred instead of promoting unity. The purpose of college is to develop the individual and help the community rather than embracing a superficial identity that degrades one another.
The concept of the Morehouse Man is extremely fluid and differs from each member of the community. In my opinion, the ideal representative of Morehouse College is a man who understands his limitations and capitalizes on his capabilities so that he may create a better tomorrow for himself, his family, and the rest of the community. Men of Morehouse and Morehouse Men need to stop living up to a facade and focus on the task at hand, creating a better tomorrow. Outsiders need to stop being critical of Morehouse and focus on the individual first and foremost.
This is what I expect.