President Barack Obama roused the new graduates of Morehouse College on Sunday with a commencement address that spoke directly to racial issues in a way the first African-American president does only sparingly.
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President Obama’s commencement speech at Morehouse marks the first time a sitting president will deliver a commencement address in Georgia since 1938 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke at the University of Georgia. Obama’s presence is ground-breaking, considering the significance of Morehouse College.
History: Founded in 1867, Morehouse is the nation’s only historically black college for men. It is a private liberal arts college.
Enrollment: About 2,300 students.
Graduates: Nearly 550 students graduated Sunday.
Notable alumni: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., theologian Howard Thurman, filmmaker Spike Lee and former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson.
Leadership: John Silvanus Wilson Jr. started as the college’s 11th president in January. Before becoming president, Wilson worked for Obama as executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Schools.
Location: Morehouse is in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood. The school is part of the Atlanta University Center, which is recognized as the world’s largest consortium of HBCUs. Member schools also include: Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College.
HBCUs in Georgia
A public or private college is considered a historically black college or university if it was founded to educate black people before the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Georgia is home to the following HBCUs:
Albany State University (Albany): Founded in 1903.
Clark Atlanta University (Atlanta): Founded in 1988 by merging Clark College (founded in 1869) and Atlanta University (founded in 1865).
Fort Valley State University (Fort Valley): Founded in 1895.
Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta): Founded in 1958. It is a consortium of six seminaries and an at-large fellowship for students who are not affiliated with the six denominations.
Morehouse College (Atlanta): A men’s college, founded in 1867.
Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta): Founded in 1975 as a program at Morehouse College; in 1981 it became an independent college.
Morris Brown College (Atlanta): Founded in 1881.
Paine College (Augusta): Founded in 1882.
Savannah State University (Savannah): Founded in 1890.
Spelman College (Atlanta): A woman’s college, founded in 1881.
Sources: White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, college websites