What is a Morehouse Man?

With the coming of President Franklin, rumors have run rampant of a heavy-handed dress code. I have heard that the new football coach has required the players to cut off their dreadlocks and shave their faces. The new freshmen got not only new t-shirts this year, but also snazzy new blazers. There’s talk of forcing chapel for all students as an actual class (this is in addition to Crown Forum). It’s talk of the return to the standards upheld in the Benjamin Mays days.

This talk only seems like a danger to me. This talk ignores the question we should all ponder in our time here.

What is a Morehouse Man? Is he the kind of man that is acceptable to the white businessman? Is he the kind of man that everyone loves? Is he the kind of man that won’t rattle the cages of the world? Is he docile? Is he submissive?

What is a Morehouse Man? Is he the King who led people peacefully but still had the courage to fight? Is he the Lee who spoke in such a way that every man, woman, and child had to listen to the things he had to say in the way he had to say it? Is he the Jackson with the booming voice and the work ethic of a tireless soul?

What is a Morehouse Man? Does he have Edwin Moses’s innovation? Does he have David Satcher’s brilliant skill? Does he have Bill Nunn’s presence? Does he have Saul Williams’s ideas?

What is a Morehouse Man? Can he lead like Michael Lomax? Can he overcome like Bakari Sellers? Can he innovate like Julian Bond? Can he transcend like Herman Cain? Can he inspire like Howard Thurman?

What is a Morehouse Man and is there only one? To state that we should all dress the same; to state that we should all speak the same; to state that we should all act the same, to state that we should all believe the same; this is not upholding standards, this is restoring antiquity. It is stating that the Morehouse Man is the kind of man that the world should know, but that it has no room to innovate.

The new Morehouse Man is a synthesis of all our greatest attributes. But he is the DuBois and the Washington. He is Paul the Apostle, all things to all people. He is a beacon to the world of what the Black man can be: anything.

This is not to say that he is capable of being a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, although he is. It says he can be one of the few Black men as schoolteachers, despite how little money they make. It says he can rap the truth on the radio in a way that Oprah doesn’t have to berate what she didn’t understand in the first place. It says he can run a nice restaurant on Peachtree Street.

The way to this thinking is not through matching attire. It’s not through eliminating vulgar language. It’s not through making Muslims and atheists learn Baptist hymns. The way to this thinking is through enriching each man in every avenue.

It’s through encouraging conversation about how Michael Vick is an idiot for not having better habits, subsequently teaching about the legal system. It’s through really understanding all the inner meaning in Dave Chappelle’s best jokes. It’s through wondering if it’s really alright for Quentin Tarantino to capitalize on Negros for his entire career.

The greatness of the Morehouse Man will continue to shine, but we should not be discouraged if the light is not the same. Just as language changes; just as society changes; just as music changes; so must we. Our standards for one another must change. Our standards for Morehouse must change. We shall continue to strive for excellence, but we must also recognize what excellence is in the 21st century.

What is the Morehouse Man? He is not the homogeneous idea of what a Black man should be in the 1950’s. He is not always bald headed, but he can be. He is not always clean-shaven, but he can be. His pants may not always fit on his waist, but they can be. He may not always be a pastor, but he can be.

A Morehouse Man is what we shall be some day, and it shall be the greatness that we aspire to be, in all shapes and forms.


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