Monday, May 19, 2008

A White Valedictorian at Morehouse

The well-known and historically rich Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia has produced some notable alumni such as filmmaker Spike Lee, Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses and actor Samuel L. Jackson. Of course, its most famous graduate is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

But something just happened that hadn't previously taken place in the 141 year history of the school. A white man was at the top of the graduating class at the all-male school. Joshua Packwood, who grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, finished with the top grade point average in his class and has been acknowledged as class valedictorian. posted a great story that shares about Packwood's background and what led him to become a student at Morehouse. Having a background that allowed him to spend a lot of time with African Americans, he naturally gravitated to spending time with black folk and even turned down a scholarship to an Ivy League school, Columbia, in order to attend Morehouse. Though most of his classmates are supportive of Packwood, there are some dissenters among the Morehouse community. The questions of whether a white person should be given an honor at such a notable historically black college have surfaced, among other feelings on the matter.

I have to give the guy credit since I can relate to him. He made the choice to enter a world where he would be a minority and, in some cases, resented for his very presence. But as another white person who operates in a predominately black environment, I respect his decision to attend Morehouse and applaud him for excelling as a student. As Dr. King once famously proclaimed, Packwood is being acknowledged for "the content of his character and not the color of his skin."

Listen to what Sterling Hudson, Morehouse's dean of admissions, has to say, "We're not aggressively pursuing white students," says Hudson. "But like every other college, we're interested in diversity. So, if a white student becomes interested in Morehouse - of course we are going to treat him like any other student." As a historically black college, Morehouse seeks to provide an educational environment to African American men that may not exist at other institutions. I, for one, support these schools in educating the next generation of black leaders. But if those that are not African American willingly choose to become apart of that campus community, they should be treated fairly. I'm glad to see that Morehouse has done just that and rewarded a tremendous student that did what few other white people would do.

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1 comment:

c.w. goad said...

wow I hadn't read that. very interesting.