An Ode To Spelman College From a Morehouse Brother » VSB

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An Ode To Spelman College From a Morehouse Brother

Yesterday, April 11th, was Spelman College’s Founder’s Day. On April 11th, 1881, the beginnings of what has become a shining star of Black America saw its inception. And I, for one, am thankful that the founders saw fit to create this institution of higher learning that has honestly done almost as much for me as my own alma mater, Morehouse College.

Wrote a song about it; like to hear it, hear it go.

I did not go to Morehouse College because of its history or legacy. I went to Morehouse because one of my best friends in high school told me that he got a scholarship and that I should apply because with my test scores and GPA, etc, I’d probably get one too, and if we both went, we could be roommates (we were). Also because of A Different World. To say that I put a ton of thought into where I was going to college would be the equivalent of saying Tyrese thinks before he speaks. I applied to lots of schools and got into them all and got scholarships to most, but because I (and my sister) were only like the 2nd and 3rd people in our family going to college – my father was in the military and taking classes and would eventually graduate from Alabama A&M University in Huntsville (Normal), Alabama – there weren’t a lot of convos in my household about the particulars of college. It was all, just “go to college.” Honestly, I don’t even remember conversations centered around graduating from college; going to college was the accomplishment.

Either way, I applied, got me one of them there scholarships and pretty much decided then that I was going. It helped that when I told people I was going to Morehouse, specifically in Black circles, I was met with lots of celebration and “another fine Morehouse Man” type accolades. Oddly, and even though my mother’s side of the family is largely centered a SOLID 10 minutes from the Atlanta University Center, Morehouse and Spelman may as well have been in another state. I spent all my time on the far west side of Atlanta between Adamsville, Bowen Homes, Center Hill, and Zone 4. Shout-outs to MLK Blvd, Peyton Place, SW, and Hightower MARTA station.

Anyway, I had the good fortune to be invited to a pre-freshman summer program called Center of Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering, which as the title suggests, was created for those us majoring in one of those disciplines granting us an advanced start on our classwork. It is there that I met the people on the Morehouse side who are now (save for my boy that came to college with me from high school) my best friends in life, god parents to my chirrens, and effectively couldn’t be closer without being blood brothers.

It is ALSO where I was introduced to Spelman College.

Hear this, and hear this good: Spelman College is just different. The first time I ventured onto the campus during that summer program, life changed. I’m pretty sure I heard angels sing the second I stepped through those gates, those beautiful, necessary Spelman gates. Shouts to AJ and the the mythical rubber bullets.

Those angels never quite stopped singing for me. Spelman introduced me to more impressive, intelligent, interesting, engaging, beautiful (as a people), and challenging women than I’d ever encountered in life, many of whom I have the grand pleasure of calling friends and family today. They’re bad bad. The women I met at Spelman, both through my time at Morehouse and through my life since graduating, have absolutely made me a better person, in nearly every way. That’s not to say that I haven’t made mistakes; Spelman is magic, but it ain’t a miracle worker. But the type of women that gathered under the Spelman banner, at least in my own life, have been the type that I’ve always wanted to be around because I knew that my life was better that way.

And this isn’t to say that I haven’t had similar experiences with women from other institutions, but as a collective, women from Spelman are exceptional, to the point where I’m genuinely happy and proud to meet a woman from Spelman. Every woman I know from Spelman isn’t perfect, nor should I expect that. It would be unreasonable. But my impression of women from Spelman through my experiences has led me to view the institution, its mission, its ability to execute its mission, and its students and graduates as being the embodiment of Black excellence.

My own daughter is a SpelHouse baby, and I can’t envision her going anywhere else. Which is curious because I can see my sons at other institutions than Morehouse, though it would be my sincerest desire for them to attend my alma mater, and stay in my dorm room, White Hall 126.

I know some men who personally don’t feel about Spelman the way that I do and veer towards negativity that I don’t understand. And that’s okay because the women I had the pleasure of encountering and knowing had such a positive impact on my own life that the reverence I hold for Spelman and her graduates will always be high enough to cover anybody who thinks otherwise. Shoot, I even attempted to double major in French JUST to take all of my classes at Spelman, a plan derailed by the one class I took at Morris Brown College which took place in the professors office because, and I mean no shade by this, Morris Brown’s CAR AIN’T HAVE NO ROOF! Seriously, the professor’s office was in a classroom separated by a partition. And because I was already in the 400 level classes as a freshman, this professor and our lack of class and that walk to Morris Brown were going to be part of my life for four years so I was like #bishwhet and #naw before hashtags were a thing.

So I just took some acting classes instead. Cross registration at Spelman was just another Tuesday for me and my life. It’s partially why I’ve been out and about in DC and run into somebody who graduated from school when I did who remembers me…from Spelman. And you know what, I’m proud of that.

So to Spelman College and her students and alumnae, I praise thy name too. I always have and always will.

Shouts to Abby, HH, Packard, and LLCs 1 and 2, Morehouse-James, Sage McAlpin, Manley, Laura Spelman, and all of those Fridays spent at Lower Manley lying on credit card applications, eating Chik-Fil-A, and generally just chillin’ because it felt like what we all thought college was supposed to feel like.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • My mom, who loves respectability politics and acting like she’s better than folk, wanted me to go to Spelman, but once I heard about curfews, dress codes and the like I was like NOPE, NO THANKS. Is that even Spelman or Hampton? I don’t remember.

    I respect tf outta the legacy of the institution, though.

    • panamajackson

      There’s always somebody in somebody’s family flying the respectability politics flag. Most, if not all, HBCU’s have visitation rules. We didn’t have curfew, but we couldn’t have women in our dorms (and vice versa) after a certain point. I believe it was midnight, or maybe 11pm. It was a long time ago.

      • Calvin Smith

        couldn’t be CAUGHT with women after a certain point…..

        • Lea Thrace

          precisely. cause I definitely was on that Morehouse campus well after midnight.

          STUDYING OF COURSE.

          • Anatomy

            • Lea Thrace

              I studied many subjects and fields of science Malik!

              • We are referring to it as “science” now?

                • Lea Thrace

                  I was a biochemistry major sir. What ever are you implying?! :-P

                  • I’m just trying to read between the lines

          • “M”

            Of course.

            lol

        • AKA The Sauce

          No comment

      • SAS

        Alternative facts. Let’s just say i had ample opportunity to test your theory (i was there in the mid ’90’s) and can very much disprove.

        • panamajackson

          Me and my roommate definitely got popped for having girls in our room after hours. Instead of handling it himself, or b*tch a** RA called the Morehouse police. My roommate and I had to go to the station, give statements to cops who clearly couldn’t care less, adn sign some paper saying we demystified the morehouse mystique for our permanent record. lol.

          • Val

            What? That’s crazy. Lol

      • Torrey R Jackson

        I think the Spelman campus curfew was 11 and Morehouse was midnight. We had a cool RA in DuBois that told us he couldn’t catch us in our rooms while he’s entertaining in his.

      • “M”

        “There’s always somebody in somebody’s family flying the respectability politics flag. “

        It’s branded (ha) on the DNA.

        Panama, where were you in my formative years to talk to my relatives?

      • My mom somehow thought that going to Spelman would make me more refined, like her, when I’m really just a ratchet chick who can talk good.

        • Val

          Lol

    • AKA The Sauce

      May have been Hampton

    • Mr. Mooggyy

      Hampton’s freshmen were on lock!

      • One of my friends went there for graduate school but she also had tales about undergrads getting into some shizz because they didn’t follow the rules. Couldn’t have been me.

      • Dmaclee

        I was fresh into 17 when I went to college. My folks loved Hampton’s rules. So that’s where I ended up until they got divorced and the money ran out.

    • HoneyRose

      There aren’t any curfew at Spelman. There’s a dress code for orientation, but that’s only a week. After that it’s basically “don’t come to class in pajamas and rollers,” which is pretty reasonable.

      • And that’s why I didn’t go. My rollers ain’t stopping this learning! lol

  • josh gibson

    Thanks for this. My mom and my aunt were Spelman women. I used to love to hear about the white gloves on Sunday and what it meant to be a Spelman woman. And even though my dad and granddad were Morehouse men my dearly departed mom is the reason I became a Morehouse man. I spent part of my childhood on Hampton’s campus. I love HBCUs, but the one you praise is my heart. I need to call my aunt.

  • Calvin Smith

    Dope. The three women I love the most are all Spelman women. Nuff said. I saw an earlier comment mention a dress code…the Spelman pullback? Bootcut jeans and a black top? I’m not sure….anyway here’s to the land of Milk and Honeys and finding out we could eat lunch over there during the COE days!

  • Carla Cartwright

    Awww. I remember AJ. :) #spelhouselove

  • Val

    Thanks for this post, PJ. I come from an HBCU family. Both sets of grandparents were HBCU grads. As were my parents. So going to an HBCU was expected. But, I kid you not, nothing I have ever done before or since elicited more pride and hugs and bragging from my family as did my acceptance to Spelman.

    That’s how I knew, even before arriving on campus, how special Spelman was.

    • I always find it interesting to know people who had grand parents who attended college.

      • IDontKnowAnyMore

        Pretty soon, there will be no “first generation to go college” stories. I’m already talking to 21-22 year olds with parents with various degrees.

        • Bound to happen which is a great thing. My oldest sister who was born in 65 and my cousins who were around that age were the first to go.

          • Val

            Did you attend an HBCU, Wu?

            • No, I went to the College of Charleston. I’m an supporter of HBCU’s though. It’s messy what state’s try to do to their smaller universities.

              • Val

                You def have an HBCU vibe. That’s why I asked.

          • My grandparents set the trend for the family. My cousin is fourth generation at my alma mater.

        • CrankUpThe_AC

          Looking forward to that day! And my home state of NY is leading the charge with this free 4 year education thing. I’m a little salty though. Had that option been offered to me, I would’ve made a couple different choices. Such is life.

          I’m betting that in the next 20 years, undergrad is going to be free across the country which is cool. The flip-side is everyone’s gonna need a Phd to be a janitor.

          • 20 years across the entire country?! I think in 20 years California, New Jersey, and maybe Washington. I can’t imagine red states offering that or even most blue states.

            • CrankUpThe_AC

              I think so man. Tennessee is currently offering free community college. Frame it in a way that makes it look like they can save money and they can save face.

              • Val

                I agree with Malik. Red states aren’t trying to educate folks for free.

                • I know my mom would of forced my sister to stay at New Paltz if it was free

                  • Val

                    Lol I have quite a few friends who attended New Paltz.

                    Where did you go?

                    • I was at Howard for a year and been in and out of school since. Going to enroll full-time somewhere here in the fall since the changes though

                    • Val

                      Go back to Howard.

                    • one day ideally

                    • Val

                      Why not this fall?

                    • I’m poor

                  • CrankUpThe_AC

                    I’m inclined to agree with mom dukes. I think the benefits of graduating debt free far outweigh the personal growth benefits.

                • CrankUpThe_AC

                  So how long do you think those states will be able to lie to their under-educated and ill-equipped citizenry? Idk man. Rampant black lung and opioid abuse would have me asking congress for some new solutions.

                  • Val

                    I mean, they just elected Trump. So it’s going to be a while.

                • For free if at all. That goes for white, black, or otherwise.

          • Val

            I might have taken a more serious look at SUNY Purchase had it been free.

        • Epsilonicus

          Idk about all of that. Only 60% of folks have a college degree

          • Hammster

            I don’t have a lot of faith that there will be a day in our lifetimes where there are no first gen college students; especially because college is getting more and more expensive. I think NY and maybe a few other states will be the only ones for a while that offer free tuition.

      • miss em

        My grandfather’s mother went to Tuskeegee. I have her diary from college. It’s an inspiration. And then her husband drank himself to death from the stress of being more well educated than the whitefolk he had to kowtow to every day just to get along and make his money. Tragic and sad.

      • Zil Nabu

        Third generation college graduate here. Actually, 3rd generation advanced degree. Fun fact: my grandmother was Savannah State’s 1st homecoming queen.

        Black people been going to college since the 1800s so there should be a good number of multigenerational degree havers amongst us.

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        Yes! What a privilege…

    • In my high school yearbook it says I was going to Spelman. Which, at the time of printing, was accurate as I was accepted. BUT when that financial aid packet rolled through, #FAMU was where it was at. Top 10% of my class and Spelman offered barely nothing. FAMU gave me a Presidential scholarship and a job.

      • panamajackson

        Spelman is notoriously stingy with scholarship monies.

        • PinkRose

          Because old money/tradition. STEM majors have an easier time from what I hear.

          • Angele Denise

            Not necessarily. They gave me $2K for chemistry. Most of my friends were on NASA scholarships for science and engineering. None of us got anything substantial from Spelman. Back in the day tuition was “just” $23K but the $2K wouldn’t have helped much.

            • FashionMaven

              Yeah – I think if you were in tech and engineering, you could get a full ride. I got a full scholarship – but it was a NASA scholarship that Spelman “managed”. My major was Computer Science.

      • PinkRose

        I was a visiting at FAMU back in the day. Best. Semester. EVER! And I would have transferred if the Chemistry dept had had their stuff/class offerings together!

        But I’m STILL claiming my Rattler status complete with hats, teeshirts, AND sweatshirts, Psssssssssssssss!

      • Angele Denise

        Spelman gave me $2000. Seriously.

        • I think that’s what they offered as a “book scholarship.” Staph it.

    • StillSuga

      I applied and got into Spelman but I remember wayyy back in my senior year that I already had acceptance and financial aid packages from two other schools (including the one I ended up attending) before I received acceptance from Spelman near the end of the school year. My experiences and friends/family I made in school let me know I was where I was supposed to be but every now and again I do wonder how different I might be had I gone to Spelman.

      • miss em

        i also got in, and I went to visit and I knew in my heart of hearts that the experience would have made me a not-so-nice person. I mean, I already thought I was special, and being there would have reinforced that negative pride in a bad way. I am glad I went to a PWI (that oddly enough has strong ties to Morehouse) where I constantly had to fight to prove my worth. I think in a way it made me “blacker.” I became much more politically active and interested in the plight of all of our people rather than lounging in the cocoon of black middle class-ness (if that’s a thing)

  • SAS

    From a proud Spelman Sister, thanks for the love. We love our Morehouse brothers right back.

  • I don’t know anything about spelman but this was a dope drop

    • Val

      You know me. :-)

  • AKA The Sauce

    I love that y’all give each other so much love.

    Oh

    2017 just took Charlie Murphy. Didn’t know he was battling

    • Just saw that. I knew he was really skinny.

      • AKA The Sauce

        I haven’t seen him recently

        • Leukemia was the cause from what I was reading.

          Cancer, a dirty gutter snipe who grew up to be a dirtier bus station skank.

          • AKA The Sauce

            Yea…I just saw that…sneaks up on you quick…smh

    • Roz

      What!?!

      • AKA The Sauce

        Yup!

    • Mr. Mooggyy

      Damm! It was obvious that he was sick though!

    • IDontKnowAnyMore

      Sad. And he lost his wife a few years ago to cancer.

      • Roz

        Their kids! :(

        • AKA The Sauce

          Right

  • I’d like to see a Morehouse man speak out about the chexual assaults happening in Spelhouse.

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/anitabadejo/where-is-that-narrative?utm_term=.dqEjPJJ4AO#.fmp5annvxk

    For decades, students at Spelman — the elite historically black women’s college — have spoken out about instances of sexual assault committed by students from Morehouse College, their unofficial brother school. Now, in the wake of a petition, protests, and a federal investigation, their messages are ringing louder than ever. Why haven’t we heard them?

    • AKA The Sauce

      Well, that escalated quickly

      • I’m just speaking my mind. Though sexual assault happens everywhere, there is something going on between the two… More evidence.

        http://blackgirllonghair.com/2016/01/11-shocking-revelations-from-buzzfeeds-expose-on-sexual-assault-of-spelman-students-by-morehouse-students/

        • AKA The Sauce

          I agree…from what I remember Tally Yo had it’s issues as well as. Still..you bring up a valid point. It seems to have been a major problem in that area for a LONG while and I wouldn’t think it should. They way most melanated Atlantan’s treat folks in the AUC I would think there would be more of a conversation. There should be more of them speaking out but then again…I am not a Morehouse man…I’m an SSU man so I don’t know what they are doing…I will have to let them handle it. I can only hope they are doing something about it.

    • Val

      Sigh. Yes, it’s definitely a problem that needs to be dealt with.

    • cakes_and_pies

      Morehouse is having trouble keeping their own house in order right now.

    • panamajackson

      Why haven’t we heard the messages? Down there on campus, I presume it’s been a thing.

      I do know that those stories – i read the buzzfeed one and there’s another article in particular that i remember – were shared very widely in our alumni networks and FB groups. Those conversations are definitely happening, or at least were, amongst our alumni. Especially the Buzzfeed article which is over a year old now. And most men who read those stories could easily agree that there’s a problem that needs fixing. I don’t know if there are recent cases at Morehose right now (though I suppose there probably are), I think our current issues with basically staying open and cleaning house on the leadership end has taken over the Morehouse news cycle.

  • I wanted to go to an HBCU but never wanted to go to college and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I will encourage my children to check it out as from what I understand it’s a great experience.

    • AKA The Sauce

      HBCU’s are the best…never too late!

      • For professionals

        • AKA The Sauce

          I mean…you don’t have to talk about the sociology department like that Ricky

      • Hahah I have my MBA and hated college I think i’m done at this point. lol However, you are right! It is never too late!

        • AKA The Sauce

          I mean…you can get certification lol

          • could be. I’ll check it out in my late 40s and early 50s when I need to broaden my life!

    • I tell my daughter all the time, “you can go anywhere you want, but my money is going to FAMU.”

      • Lmao! that’s a good point! My mom didn’t really have a plan like that but because I’ve learned from her mistakes, may try to do that!

      • SPG

        I tell my kiddos the same about Howard!

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