DionRabouin.com (sort of)

Morris Brown Grads Hear Message of Prosperity

Posted in Articles by dionrabouin on May 18, 2012

(Written for The Atlanta Voice 5/18/12)

ATLANTA – As the 32 graduates from Morris Brown College’s class of 2012 gathered on the steps of Big Bethel A.M.E. Church to pose for photos last weekend, many found it hard to focus on the photographers. Just feet from the church’s front door on Auburn Ave. thousands of people had gathered for the Sweet Auburn Springfest.

Despite the cacophony of music, laughter and shouting that came from the neighboring festival, however, nothing could distract from the main event.

The ceremony featured a commencement address from City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, who was given an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. The college also awarded honorary degrees to Bunnie Jackson-Ransom and to Claudia Burris Williford who, at 108 years old, is the school’s oldest living graduate. She graduated in 1926.

Mitchell got his undergraduate degree from neighboring Morehouse College, but he serves on the Morris Brown’s Board of Trustees and has plenty of connection to the college. His mother, grandmother and godmother all graduated from Morris Brown.

The city council president used his speech to tell the graduates about the power of positive thinking.

“You should never say anything about yourself that you would not want to be true,” he said. “Always say something about yourself, say anything about yourself, that you indeed want to be true.

“That is the beginning of the process of self realization, the process of manifestation, the process of taking thoughts, ideas and making them true,” he said.

Many in the graduating class were either working while enrolled in school or had returned to college after working for years without a degree. Mitchell addressed that contingent as well.

“There are those of you that are returning to college as nontraditional students and told that this day would be nearly impossible,” he said, “but each of you sits here today proving the naysayers wrong.”

Morris Brown, one of the nation’s oldest black colleges, lost its accreditation with in 2003 and has been operating in a “self-study” phase since then. The school paid off a significantly reduced portion of the $10 million it owed to the U.S. Department of Education last year and will reapply for accreditation in October.

Mitchell referenced Morris Brown’s comeback in his speech to graduates.

“I’m sure there are those among you who were undoubtedly told that you were crazy to enroll in Morris Brown College,” Mitchell said. “Some of those around you probably said things like, ‘Don’t you know what that school is going through?’ But I’m here to tell you that we are alive.”

Co-valedictorian Markita Eddy said that the ceremony brought a sense of closure and accomplishment to her time at Morris Brown.

“It’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of another,” Eddy said. “It’s like solidifying all that we’ve been through here at Morris Brown and making it all worth it.”

Eddy’s enthusiasm about the ceremony was mirrored by co-valedictorian Amaria Edmond.

“We come from a black church, which made a black school; and that feeling of family and love and all of that just made the whole occasion what it was,” she said. “I’m grateful to God to be a part of it.”

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