The Atlanta University Center continues to serve as an incubator for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Ever heard the phrase “There’s strength in numbers”? Of course you have, and whether it was delivered in exactly those words or as “stronger together” or even “it takes a village,” the power in knowing that groups of people often have more influence than an individual is an ideal that the African American culture should never stray from.
In the heart of one of the nation’s most glorious meccas of melanin-infused living, Atlanta, Ga., this notion is alive and well via four pillars of African American–based education that foster movers and shakers individually and change the course of history as a unit.
Located in the historic Westside, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Spelman College and Morris Brown College form the Atlanta University Center (AUC), the world’s largest consortium of African American private institutions of higher education.
These institutions are undeniably important, because thanks to today’s contemporary economic, political and social precariousness of black life in America, we know more than ever that settings like the AUC and other HBCUs are king in both preserving our history and fostering creative, new and exciting narratives to sustain generations to come. If we as a society come to recognize that black lives matter, then we must do the same for the venues that have cultivated and continue to nurture our beloved black magic.
Though the missions of these institutions have remained steadfast through the years, navigating the campuses of many schools, including the AUC, today may introduce you to a new type of activist, dreamer, entrepreneur and performer due to a beautifully burgeoning sense of self that these nouveau game changers possess. With alumni like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Bernice King and Ralph David Abernathy, as well as cultural savants like Alice Walker, Spike Lee, Keshia Knight-Pulliam and Kenny Leon, the bar has been set high, and fortunately, no known limits exist.
We spent a day soaking up the culture in Atlanta’s AUC with a group of alumni who just might be the next faces to break barriers and records, using tool belts garnered at these institutions, and while they might not be marching or taking traditional routes to legendary status, the road less traveled seems to serve them graciously.
On Living Up To The Hype Spelman lived up to the expectations set out from my mother, who also attended Spelman (and “strongly encouraged” me to do the same). However, I don’t think I realized how my experience would shape my view of the world post matriculation and how unique that experience would be once I got into the real world. There’s something magical that happens to your ambition, confidence and vision for your life when you spend four years interfacing with a host of intelligent black women who are all taught and shown that they can do and be whatever they desire. We carry that with us, and most people will never know what that feels like.
Attorney | Serial Entrepreneur
Spelman College, Class of 2007
On Perception: People really like to think that Spelman is a big sorority full of black girls with rich parents, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. The diversity of the student body is far greater than people would think, filled with women from varied backgrounds—socially, culturally, economically, etc.
—TP ON THE PROCESS OF CULTIVATING CREATIVITY
Spelman lived up to the expectations set out from my mother, who also attended Spelman (and “strongly encouraged” me to do the same). However, I don’t think I realized how my experience would shape my view of the world post matriculation and how unique that experience would be once I got into the real world. There’s something magical that happens to your ambition, confidence and vision for your life when you spend four years interfacing with a host of intelligent black women who are all taught and shown that they can do and be whatever they desire. We carry that with us, and most people will never know what that feels like.
Clark Atlanta University, Class of 2009
On forming lifelong bonds: Honestly, there is nothing like the experience of an HBCU—it’s like gaining an extended family. That’s why our homecomings are always so special. The bonds that I made at Clark Atlanta University are those I can take with me throughout my lifetime. From friends you met freshman year to the teachers who helped you when you struggled with a particular class, mentors, and specifically for me my sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Alpha Pi Chapter. To still be able to call on them for guidance, help and support is a priceless feeling. Those people mean the world to me. I couldn’t imagine my life without them! —AG
ON BEING READY FOR THE WORLD
I was always intrigued by Morehouse when I learned Martin Luther King Jr. was a graduate and that Morehouse was the only unique school of its kind that educated the best and brightest men of color. I wanted that training that prepared MLK Jr. and the many esteemed alumni who chose Morehouse to prepare them for the next level. True to its mission, to develop men with disciplined minds, who will lead lives of leadership and service, Morehouse did just that. I am the man and leader I am today because of brotherhood, discipline and hands-on training and education I received from professors at Morehouse.
I am indebted to the professors who took the one-on-one time to impart their wisdom and took a hard line with me because they wanted me to be the best I could be. Morehouse gave me that concentrated experience. Morehouse instilled leadership, grit, character and the boldness I would need to be an effective leader in the world and in my community. I carry my experience with me every day when I reflect on the words of Dr. Howard Thurman: “Over the heads of her students, Morehouse holds a crown that she challenges them to grow tall enough to wear.” I am proud to be part of such an amazing legacy of Renaissance men.
Corporate Governance Professional, LGBT Advocate Morehouse College, Class of 2008
On being part of the Morehouse legacy: Morehouse men are leaders. Morehouse truly does produce leaders who are commissioned to change the world. I am inspired every time I step foot on Morehouse’s campus and see all of the men who have chosen to be part of this legacy and brotherhood. —AH