Morehouse College
Former names
Atlanta Baptist Seminary, Atlanta Baptist College
MottoLatin: "Et Facta Est Lux"
Motto in English
And there was light[1]
TypePrivate historically black men's liberal arts college
Established1867; 157 years ago (1867)
Academic affiliations
Annapolis Group
Oberlin Group
Endowment$186 million (2022)[2]
PresidentDavid A. Thomas[3]
Students2,260 (Fall 2021)
Location, ,
United States

33°44′48″N 84°24′55″W / 33.74667°N 84.41528°W / 33.74667; -84.41528
Campus61 acres, urban[4]
NewspaperThe Maroon Tiger[5]
ColorsMaroon and White[6]
NicknameMaroon Tigers[7]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division II SIAC[7]
MascotThe Maroon Tiger

Morehouse College is a private historically Black, men's, liberal arts college in Atlanta, Georgia. Anchored by its main campus of 61 acres (25 ha) near Downtown Atlanta, the college has a variety of residential dorms and academic buildings east of Ashview Heights. Along with Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and the Morehouse School of Medicine, the college is a member of the Atlanta University Center consortium.

Founded by William Jefferson White in 1867 in response to the liberation of enslaved African-Americans following the American Civil War, Morehouse stressed preparatory and religious instruction in the Baptist tradition for students who had been prevented from receiving education by former slave laws. Growth in the late 19th and early 20th century led to strengthened finances, higher enrollment, and focus on the liberal arts. The college has played a key role in the development of the civil rights movement and racial equality in the United States.

The largest men's liberal arts college in the United States,[8] Morehouse has been home to 11 Fulbright Scholars, five Rhodes Scholars, and five Marshall Scholars, and is the alma mater of many celebrated African-Americans, including civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and entertainment icon Spike Lee. The college has graduated numerous "African American firsts" in local, state and federal government, as well as in science, academia, business, and entertainment.



In 1867, two years after the American Civil War, the Augusta Institute was founded, by William Jefferson White, an Atlanta Baptist minister and cabinetmaker (William Jefferson White's half-brother, James E. Tate, was one of the founders of Atlanta University, now Clark Atlanta University [citation needed]), with the support of the Rev. Richard C. Coulter, a former slave from Atlanta, Georgia, and the Rev. Edmund Turney, organizer of the National Theological Institute for educating freedmen in Washington, D.C.[9] The institution was founded to educate African American men in theology and other subjects, at Springfield Baptist Church (Augusta, Georgia), the oldest independent Black church in the United States. The institution moved from Augusta, Georgia, to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1879. The school received sponsorship from the American Baptist Home Mission Society, an organization that helped establish several historically Black colleges.[9][10] The institute's first president was the Rev. Joseph T. Robert (1871–1884) (father of Brigadier General Henry Martyn Robert, author of Robert's Rules of Order). An anti-slavery Baptist minister from South Carolina and 1828 graduate of Brown University, Robert raised funds, taught the classes, and stabilized the institution.

Morehouse's history
1867 Augusta Institute established[9]
1879 Institute moved to Atlanta and name changed to Atlanta Baptist Seminary[9]
1885 The seminary moved to its present location[9]
1897 The school was renamed Atlanta Baptist College[9]
1913 School renamed to Morehouse College[9]
1929 Morehouse entered into a cooperative agreement with Clark College and Spelman College (later expanded to form the Atlanta University Center)[9]
1975 The Morehouse School of Medicine established
1981 The Morehouse School of Medicine became independent from Morehouse College

Early years

An entrance to the courtyard.

In 1879, the institute moved to Atlanta and changed its name to the Atlanta Baptist Seminary.[9] It later acquired a 4-acre (1.6 ha) campus in downtown Atlanta. In 1885, Samuel T. Graves became the second president. That year the seminary moved to its present location, on land given by a prominent Baptist and industrialist, John D. Rockefeller. In 1890, George Sale became the seminary's third president. In 1899, William E. Holmes, who had been the first African American faculty member at the school, left to become the first president of Central City College in Macon, Georgia.[11]

In 1906 John Hope became the first African-American president and led the institution's growth in enrollment and academic stature.[9] He envisioned an academically rigorous college that would be the antithesis to Booker T. Washington's view of agricultural and trade-focused education for African-Americans. In 1913, the college was renamed Morehouse College, in honor of the Rev. Henry L. Morehouse, corresponding secretary of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, who had long organized Rockefeller and the Society's support for the college.[9][10] Morehouse entered into a cooperative agreement with Clark College and Spelman College in 1929 and later expanded the association to form the Atlanta University Center.[9]

Samuel H. Archer became the fifth president of the college in 1931 and chose the school colors, maroon and white, to reflect his own alma mater, Colgate University. Benjamin Mays became president in 1940.[9] Mays, who became a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr., presided over the growth in international enrollment and reputation. In the 1960s, Morehouse students were involved in the civil rights movement in Atlanta.[9] Mays's speeches shaped the development of Morehouse students during his tenure.

In 1967, Hugh M. Gloster became the seventh president. The next year, Morehouse became the third historically Black institution (HBCU) to establish a Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society. In 1975, Gloster established the Morehouse School of Medicine, which became independent from Morehouse College in 1981. Gloster also established a dual-degree program in engineering with the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, and Boston University.[12]

Modern history

Leroy Keith Jr., was named president in 1987. In 1995, alumnus Walter E. Massey, became Morehouse's ninth president. His successor, alumnus Robert Michael Franklin Jr. was the tenth president of the college. In November 2012, alumnus John Silvanus Wilson was announced as the institution's 11th president.[13] In January 2018, David A. Thomas took office as the college's 12th president.[14]

In 2007, Morehouse graduated 540 men, one of the largest classes in its history.[15] On May 16, 2008, Joshua Packwood became the first white valedictorian to graduate in the school's 141-year history.[16][17] In August 2008, Morehouse welcomed a total of 920 new students (770 freshmen and 150 transfer students) to its campus, one of the largest entering classes in the history of the school.[18]

Morehouse celebrated several historic milestones in 2013. One century prior, in 1913, Atlanta Baptist College was renamed Morehouse College after Henry Lyman Morehouse, corresponding secretary for the American Baptist Home Mission Society. 2013 was also the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, when Morehouse graduate Martin Luther King Jr., class of 1948, delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The year also marked the 50th anniversary of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." The college also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the "A Candle in the Dark" Gala, which is an annual event that honors some of the world's leaders and raises scholarship funds for Morehouse students.

Morehouse's 2013 graduates during President Obama commencement address

In May 2013, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president in three-quarters of a century to deliver a commencement address in Georgia when he took part in Morehouse College's 129th Commencement ceremony. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had given a summer commencement address at the University of Georgia in 1938. President Obama received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Morehouse.[19]

In April 2019, Morehouse announced that they will begin admitting transgender men for the first time in the year 2020.[20] In May 2019, Robert F. Smith who received an honorary degree at Morehouse College's 135th commencement ceremony, promised to pay the educational loan debt for every spring 2019 graduate which totaled about $34 million.[21][22] Smith's gift is one of the largest single donations from a living donor to a HBCU in history.[23]

In June 2020, Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin donated $40 million to Morehouse College to be used as scholarship funds for students enrolled at Morehouse. Their single donation is one of the largest in HBCU history and the largest ever for Morehouse.[24] In July 2020, Morehouse received a $20 million donation from MacKenzie Scott.[25]

In early February 2021, Morehouse announced its online degree completion program for adult learners.[26] Later in the month, the school launched its first online certificate course focused on athletics and social activism.[27]

In January 2022, Morehouse announced the establishment of the Black Men’s Research Institute. It is the first research institute of its kind focusing on the cultural, economic, personal and social outcomes of issues affecting Black men, particularly where disparities exist in the world.[28][29] In February 2022, Morehouse launched a $500 million capital campaign to fund scholarships for students from low-income households (majority of students), pay for infrastructure and technology improvements, produce research, and to recruit and retain faculty.[30]

Administration and organization

Morehouse's governing body is its board of trustees. The Morehouse Board of Trustees has 37 members, including three student trustees and three faculty trustees. As of December 2014, five of the six executive board members and seven of the 31 general trustees are Morehouse alumni.

The current President of Morehouse is David A. Thomas.

Morehouse is also a member of the Atlanta University Center. The AUC campuses are co-located in the city of Atlanta, which provides an opportunity for cross-registration, particularly for undergraduates.


Morehouse is located on 61 acres (25 ha) campus near downtown Atlanta.[4]


Graves Hall, Century Campus, and Benjamin Mays' tomb
Kilgore Campus Center
Ray Charles Performing Arts Center
Historic Chapel Bell outside of Sale Hall

Shirley A. Massey Executive Conference Center is named after the first lady of the ninth president of the college. It houses several large conference rooms and the Bank of America Auditorium. The building has hosted human rights film festivals, moving screenings, and panel discussions featuring international figures.


Obelisk in front of King Chapel dedicated to theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman

A bronze statue of Martin Luther King Jr. stands at the eastern portion of the main entrance plaza of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. Inscribed in the base of the statue are the words of King.

An obelisk named in honor of Howard Thurman stands at the western end of the main entrance plaza of King Chapel. The base of the Thurman Obelisk contains the remains of Thurman and his wife. The obelisk also houses a carillon.

The grave sites of two presidents of Morehouse College are located on campus:


Morehouse College is accredited by the Commission and Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Morehouse offers over 30 majors and the Howard Thurman Honors Program which is a selective academic program providing special opportunities for students of outstanding intellectual ability, high motivation, and broad interests. Additionally, students have many opportunities to participate in domestic exchange, study abroad, research, dual degree, internship, and leadership programs.[34][35]

Its most popular majors, based on 2021 graduates, were:[36]

Business Administration & Management (108)
Biology/Biological Sciences (45)
Political Science & Government (31)
Sports,Kinesiology & Physical Education/Fitness (30)
Psychology (27)


Academic rankings
Liberal arts
U.S. News & World Report[37]100
Washington Monthly[38]196
WSJ/College Pulse[40]401–500

Library and collections

Morehouse College, along with other members of the Atlanta University Center, share the Robert W. Woodruff Library.[52]

Morehouse College is home to a 10,000-piece collection of original documents written by Martin Luther King Jr. (referred to as the King Collection). The set was valued by the Library of Congress as being worth between $28 and $30 million and was originally scheduled by his family to be auctioned off to the general public in 2006, but private donors in Atlanta intervened and offered a pre-auction bid at $32 million. On June 29, it was announced by Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, a key catalyst in the buyout, that a new civil rights museum would be built in the city to make the documents available for research, public access and exhibits. Coca-Cola donated a land parcel valued at $10 million in order to assist with the development of the project. The collection includes King's 1964 Nobel Prize acceptance speech.[53][54][55][56]


Official athletics logo

In sports, the Morehouse College Maroon Tigers are affiliated with the NCAA Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). Morehouse College competes in football, basketball, baseball, cross country, tennis, track & field, men's volleyball, polo, and golf.

Student life

The Morehouse College student population is approximately 2,250, with 70% coming from outside Georgia.[57] Approximately 80% of the student body receives financial aid to pay for their education.[58] The average first-year student received $18,241 in need-based scholarships or grants.[59]

New Student Orientation

New Student Orientation (NSO) is an eight-day experience that culminates with new students ceremoniously initiated as Men of Morehouse. They learn about the legacy of the college, traditions, academic divisions, the brotherhood, and the "Morehouse Mystique".[60] These components complement academic success strategies designed to help them successfully matriculate to Morehouse Men (graduates). NSO is led by student orientation leaders, staff and alumni; all new students are placed on midnight curfew during NSO.[61][62]

Residence halls

Morehouse has 10 residence halls on campus.[63] Approximately 60% of Morehouse students live on campus.[64] Five residence halls are for first-year students only and five for upperclassmen only. It is a tradition for students living in first-year only residence halls to compete in various friendly competitions (i.e. stroll-offs, chant-offs, pranks, fundraising, etc.) during the academic school year. Seniors (minimum of 90 credits) are the only group automatically allowed to live off campus; non-seniors must get approval by the college.[65]

Regulation of campus attire

In October 2009, Morehouse College initiated a campus wide attire policy that prohibits students from wearing women's clothes, jewelry on their teeth, pajamas as classroom attire, du-rags or bandanas on their heads, or pants which hang below the waist at official college-sponsored events. This dress code is part of the Five Wells which holds that "Morehouse Men are Renaissance Men with a social conscience and global perspective who are Well-Read, Well-Spoken, Well-Traveled, Well-Dressed and Well-Balanced."[66] William Bynum, vice president for Student Services was quoted by CNN as saying, "We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress [in] a way we do not expect in Morehouse men."[67] These remarks and the attire policy itself have been the source of great controversy both on and off the campus. Then-university president Robert Michael Franklin Jr. sent out an email to the schools' alumni, clarifying that the university's attire policy was not intended as an affront to gay students.[68][69]

Activities and clubs

Morehouse College offers organized and informal co-curricular activities including over 80 student organizations, varsity, club, intramural sports, and student publications.[70] Morehouse is an NCAA Division II school and competes in numerous sports, including football, baseball, basketball, cross country, volleyball, and track & field.

Morehouse Marching Band (House of Funk)

The Morehouse College Marching Band, better known as the House of Funk, is known for their halftime performances which combine dance and marching with music from various genres, including rap, traditional marching band music, and pop music. They have performed at Super Bowl XXVIII, the Today Show, at Atlanta Falcons home games, and in a national commercial with Morehouse alumnus Samuel Jackson.[71] They gave the halftime show during the 2013 NCAA Men's National Championship basketball game. Affectionately known as the "House of Funk" they march alongside Spelman's Maroon Mystique Color guard (flag spinning) squad and Mahogany-N-Motion danceline.

Debate team

2005–2006 Morehouse College Mock Trial Team after it obtained an "Honorable Mention" award in their first appearance at the American Mock Trial Association National Championship Tournament in 2006

Morehouse's debate team claims to have been formed in 1906. In 2005, Morehouse College became a member of the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA).[72] The school is one of only four competing teams to come from a historically Black college and is also the only all-male team in the AMTA. From 2006 to 2010, Morehouse consecutively won their regional championship competitions, and thus received direct trips to the AMTA national championship competitions in Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota.[73][better source needed]

In 2016, Morehouse became the only HBCU, Georgia institution, and men's college selected to host the annual U.S. Universities Debating Championship which had nearly 200 teams from across the nation participate.

In 2017, the Morehouse College Debate Team won an international first place title and a trip to Paris, France after defeating Vanderbilt University in the final round at the Lafayette Debates North American Championship in Washington D.C.[74]

Glee Club

Main article: Morehouse College Glee Club

Founded in 1911, the Morehouse College Glee Club has a long and impressive history. The Glee Club is said to have performed at Martin Luther King Jr.'s funeral, President Jimmy Carter's inauguration, Super Bowl XXVIII, and the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

The Maroon Tiger

The college's weekly student-run newspaper is The Maroon Tiger. Founded in 1898 as The Athenaeum, it was renamed in 1925. American poet and writer Thomas Dent was a contributor while he attended from 1948 to 1952, as was Martin Luther King Jr. Maroon Tiger former editors and contributors include Geoff Bennett, Vann R. Newkirk II, Donovan Ramsey, Tre'vell Anderson, Lerone Bennett Jr., Shaun King as well as a host of others. The 2008–2009 staff sought to expand the newspaper into a news organization by creating Morehouse's first television news program, Tiger TV, and advancing online news coverage.[75][76]

Miss Maroon & White

Several Spelman and Clark Atlanta juniors that advance past preliminary interviews vie for the prestigious title of Miss Maroon & White through a formal campaign and beauty pageant process during the spring semester of each year. Only Morehouse students can vote to determine the winner which is the contestant that best represents the ideal counterpart for a Morehouse Man. Miss Maroon & White and her royal court (two runners-ups known as attendants) collectively serve as official Morehouse ambassadors and represents the womanly embodiment of the institution for a year. The tradition of crowning a young woman as Miss Maroon & White began in 1936 with Juanita Maxie Ponder of Spelman College winning the first crown. Miss Maroon & White is the longest active pageant title in the Atlanta University Center.[77][78]

National fraternities and honor societies

Morehouse College has chapters of several national fraternities and honor societies on campus. About three percent of students are active in Morehouse's National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC).[79]

Religious organizations

Campus religious organizations include the Atlanta University Center Catholic Student Coalition, King International Chapel Ministry, Martin Luther King International Chapel Assistants, King Chapel Choir, Muslim Students Association, New Life Inspirational Fellowship Church Campus Ministry, and The Outlet.[70]

Notable alumni

Main article: List of Morehouse College alumni

Morehouse alumni include notable men such as: Martin Luther King Sr., Martin Luther King Jr., A. D. King, Martin Luther King III, theologian Howard Thurman, filmmaker Spike Lee, actor Samuel L. Jackson, civil rights leader Julian Bond, United States Senator Raphael Warnock,[80] businessman and former 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, Secretary of Homeland Security from 2013-17 Jeh Johnson, University president and health care executive Albert W. Dent, actor John David Washington, NFL Referee Jerome Boger, celebrity physician Corey Hébert, U.S. Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Gang Starr rapper Guru, Four-time 400 meter hurdles world record holder and twice Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses, U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel, Lloyd McNeill, Jazz flutist, USPS Kwanza Stamp designer, the first recipient of Howard University's MFA Degree, former Bank of America Chairman Walter E. Massey, the first African-American mayor of Atlanta Maynard Jackson, Major League Baseball first baseman and 1969 World Series MVP Donn Clendenon, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan, former United States Surgeon General David Satcher, musician PJ Morton, rap producer Metro Boomin, Sunday Best season 7 winner Geoffrey Golden, Montgomery County Alabama Circuit Court Judge Greg Griffin,[81] and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) scientist who attempted to stop the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Bill Jenkins.[82]

According to Morehouse's own "About Us" page, Morehouse was the first historically Black college to produce a Rhodes Scholar. The school's first Rhodes Scholar, Nima Warfield, was named in 1994, the second, Christopher Elders, in 2001.[83] A third, Oluwabusayo "Topé" Folarin, was named in 2004, the fourth, Prince Abudu, was named in 2015, and the fifth, Franck Nijimbere, was named in 2018.[43] Morehouse has been home to 11 Fulbright Scholars. Since 1999, Morehouse has produced five Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, five Luce Scholars, four Watson Fellows and 2010 White House Fellow, Erich Caulfield.[84][85]

Presidents Barack Obama[86] and Jimmy Carter hold honorary doctorates of laws from Morehouse, after giving commencement speeches.[19]

Oprah Winfrey Scholars

In 1990, Oprah Winfrey pledged to put 100 deserving young men through Morehouse. She made a donation to establish the "Oprah Winfrey Endowed Scholarship Fund". The school uses the fund to select deserving students based on academic achievement and financial need. Selected students are deemed "Oprah Scholars" or "Sons of Oprah". Their financial support covers most of the costs of their education including prior student debt.[87] Recipients must maintain their grade point average and provide additional volunteer support to the community.[88]

In 2004 Winfrey increased her donation by $5 million for a total donation of $12 million. The fund has since supported over 400 students. In 2011, several hundred Oprah Scholars surprised Winfrey by showing up at her final TV show carrying candles to thank her for her generosity. They, in turn, pledged $300,000 to help educate future Morehouse students.[89]

In 2019, Winfrey added $13 million to the scholarship program bringing her grand total donations to $25 million.[90]

Gandhi King Ikeda Awards

Lawrence Carter, Professor of Religion and Dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College, founded the MLK Chapel Assistants Pre-seminarians Program. He commissioned the Gandhi Ikeda King Hassan Institute for Ethics and Reconciliation in 1999, and created the Gandhi–King–Ikeda Community Builder's Prize of the Morehouse Chapel in 2001.[91] Named after Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968), and Daisaku Ikeda (1928-2023), Morehouse's MLK Chapel awards the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Prizes[92] as well as the Gandhi King Ikeda Awards for Peace.[93]


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