The Renaissance man with a Social Conscience

During Morehouse College’s 2008 new student orientation, the 10th President of Morehouse, Dr. Robert M. Franklin stated with a resounding voice

You are the pride of the village, and the hope of a nation…Morehouse Men are Renaissance men with a social conscience. Renaissance men contribute to the revised standards of human knowledge and achievement, while the Morehouse Man additionally serves as the living voice of social justice that informs us of what is right and good and true for society, not simply individuals”  

Shortly after he concluded his speech, I entered a world of reflection. I began to examine my own life in the context of his speech because like the great philosopher Socrates I too believe that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” Dr. Franklin’s words injected a peculiar feeling of euphoria into my veins. I admired his call for more than 800 new students at Morehouse to transcend themselves in order to transcend our world. Engaging citizens in our world to see life as something greater than their own has been a theme of primary importance to me for many years. I want to answer the call of Dr. Franklin, and though my affiliation with the college as a semester exchange student will never allow me to reach the ranks of becoming a Morehouse Man, I still wish to lead the life of a Renaissance man with a social conscience.

I shall never forget the words of President Robert Franklin during his 2008 new students welcome address. He said that an education at Morehouse “will enable you to serve others… {Morehouse is) your house at your service… Up you mighty men, lets conquer this world.” As I listened to his words, I discovered that something strange is happening to me while being here at Morehouse. Indeed, something strange is happening to my intellect, my speech, my dress, my code of conduct, my confidence, my passions and my concern for justice in the world. All of these qualities are slowly yet considerably maturing. I believe what the brothers here call the “Morehouse Mystique” is quickly falling upon me.  

Here, I have carefully listened and learned the magnificent story of a college that has “been a candle in the dark for over 140 years.” Morehouse College, an institution that began in the basement of a church has somehow produced some of the greatest minds, leaders, and men of distinction that this world has ever seen and has done so through intensely focusing on the personal development of men of African descent. In spite of the college’s rough beginnings, it has evolved into the premier institution of higher education for educating Black male college students.

At new student orientation we were told that if one looks to their left and to their right we would see a network of some of world’s future renowned Black male professionals forming right before our eyes. And as I looked to my right and I looked to my left, I said to myself the future of our nation is bright. And I said this because as I looked I saw the next Black lawyers, Black politicians, Black doctors, Black businessmen, Black engineers, Black scientists, Black entertainers, Black educators, Black preachers and Black activists all purposed awaiting the opportunity to use their God given talents to confront some of our nation’s most pressing problems. I then knew that with these men we could move our nation to make good on its promise.

If Men of Morehouse supposedly possess the deep internal comprehension of social justice and selflessness I too wish to partake in these ideals. Upon entering Morehouse, I read a vibrant sign which stated “Morehouse College, where renaissance men are born.” I hope this semester will give me a rebirth. Though I cannot pledge myself “to dear Ol Morehouse”, because I have already committed myself to Bates College, an institution that I so dearly love, I do hope that I can pledge myself to being a renaissance man with a social conscience.

Yours in struggle, I am

Brother Phillips

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Published in: on August 31, 2008 at 11:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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