An Ode To Spelman College From a Morehouse Brother
Spelman College graduates on May 19, 2002 (Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)
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.