Carson Urges Newest Group of Morehouse Men to Help Cure the Ills of the African American Community
By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
The class of 2008 must carry the mantle of leadership to help cure social ills that threaten the African American community, Commencement speaker Emmett D. Carson ’81 told the newest group of Morehouse graduates Sunday, May 18.
“The cup for which was half full and half empty has sprung a leak and in the process we have become an endangered species in need of a new generation of leadership,” Carson said to nearly 10,000 people at the Century Campus.
“I’m asking that you live up to and honor the highest traditions and expectations of being a Morehouse man,” he said. “I’m asking that you reach your hands back while you climb forward. I’m asking that you commit yourself to finding ways to give some of your time and some of your money to efforts that will help our people.”
A cloudy and chilly early morning turned into a bright, sun-splashed day of excitement as approximately 520 graduating seniors became Morehouse men when they received their diplomas Sunday.
Families cheered, fathers proudly beamed and mothers wept in joy as the class of 2008, led by a stirring group of African drummers, marched from the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel to the Century Campus for the final time as a group.
Alumni formed a wall around the processional, waving and cheering them on.
Leading the way was the College’s first Caucasian valedictorian, Joshua Packwood, with salutatorian Shannon Joyner by his side.
“Though diverse in race, ethnicity, family background and religious beliefs, we are all brothers of Morehouse College,” Packwood said in his valedictory address. “This is our promise. This is our commitment as we continue to serve.”
Two deceased members of the class of 2008 were also remembered. Sarah Taylor, the mother of Donnie Brooks Taylor Jr. ’08, was presented with her son’s certificate of attendance at Morehouse. Taylor died in a car accident in August 2007. Vanessa Crockett-Brown accepted a Bachelor of Arts degree which was posthumously awarded to her son Jarrett Crockett-Brown, who died suddenly while visiting family in Boston in December 2007.
Carson, president of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in Mountain View, Calif., joined the Rev. H. Beecher Hicks Jr., senior minister of Metropolitan Baptist Church of Washington, D.C. and retired physician and educator Dr. Edgar E. Smith in receiving honorary doctorates of Humane Letters.
“I want you to be so sensitive to disorder and chaos and mediocrity that you will not be able to sleep well at night, until you lift your hands to do something about it,” he said. “Go forth to build a brave new world. Up you mighty men! You can accomplish what you will.”
President Robert M. Franklin Jr. ’75 was presiding over his first spring commencement. He called on the class of 2008 to become well-read, well-traveled and well-balanced renaissance men with a social conscience and a global perspective.