Howard Thurman: The Making of a Morehouse Man, 1919-1923

By Giles, Mark S. | Educational Foundations, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Howard Thurman: The Making of a Morehouse Man, 1919-1923


Giles, Mark S., Educational Foundations


Since their founding in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have represented the intellectual incubators, nurturing social-cultural environments, and professional launching pads of numerous black leaders, such as noted black theologian and revered Morehouse man, Howard Washington Thurman (1900-1981). During the post-Reconstruction era and throughout the 1920s, lynching and race riots shaped the landscape of American race relations. HBCUs represented the educational settings where contested notions of what it meant to be an "educated" Black man and how black manhood should, could or would manifest itself in American life. This study examines how the ethos of Morehouse College and its Black male leadership shaped the life of Howard Thurman, class of 1923. (1)

In addition to the freedman's aid societies and White missionary and industrial philanthropic organizations, Blacks contributed mightily in multiple ways to their own educational endeavors (Gasman & Sedgwick, 2004). College-educated Blacks of the late 1900s, such as Anna Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terrell, W. E. B. Du Bois, and John Hope came to symbolize the Black talented tenth, whose elite status provided access to elements of the White world closed to other Blacks, yet obligated them to lift up members of their less fortunate communities. Within that context of limited educational opportunity and Black self-agency, Black colleges offered special sanctuaries of learning and development to prepare other leaders for the Black community.

Michael Kimmel (1996) in Manhood in America: A Cultural History claimed, "What it means to be a man in America depends heavily on one's class, race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, region of the country" (p. 5). For Black men in the South at the dawning of the twentieth century, proudly claiming manhood proved contentious, contradictory, and often deadly. College-educated Black men were rare between 1900 and 1925, but their numbers grew as a result of the institutions many of them led and attended. Morehouse College, in particular, possesses a unique legacy in the shaping of Black men and Black male leaders.

The original institution (Augusta Institute, established in the basement of a black church, Springfield Baptist in Augusta, Georgia) that became Morehouse was founded in 1867 under the auspices and support from the local Black community and the American Baptist Home Missionary Society (ABHMS). The legacy of Morehouse in developing positive contributors to their communities reveals a type of intellectual and cultural resistance to the entrenched negative stereotypes of Black men (i.e., Uncle, Sambo, Rastus, and Black Brute) and the widespread American narrative of Black men as dangerous, dumb, pathologically sexual, lazy, and immoral. The institution prides itself on taking Black males from various walks of life and transforming them into a "Morehouse man." Clearly the label, Morehouse man, can mean various things to multiple audiences, yet historically it referred to a high standard of excellence in intellect, character, Christian values, and commitment to improving the Black community. The early history of Morehouse demonstrates the complexity of southern race relations, Black self-agency balanced with White missionary philanthropy, individual benefits for collective advancement, and how the leadership and mentoring of committed men and women, Black and White, moved generations of Black males to claim a special heritage (Jones, 1967).

The role of Morehouse in shaping Black male leaders is significant and relevant to America's educational and religious life (Williams, 2001). Close examination of the early history of Morehouse reveals how and why the Morehouse man legacy emerged and a focus on Thurman informs us specifically about one of its favorite sons.

This study examines the early history, environment, and leadership, of Morehouse College and the student experiences of Dr.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Howard Thurman: The Making of a Morehouse Man, 1919-1923
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?