Morehouse College 150th Anniversary History Project

We recently asked Marcellus Barksdale, Ph.D. ’65, Professor of History and Director of African-American Studies at Morehouse College and Chair of The Morehouse Sesquicentennial Project about some of the important aspects of this historical and comprehensive project.  He shared with Morehouse College Alumni Association the following thoughts.  There are lots of ways for Alumni to participate in this project….read ahead and find out where you can make your contribution!

Dr. Marcellus Barksdale, Professor of History and Director of African-American Studies at Morehouse College and Chair of the Morehouse Sesquicentennial Project.  IMAGE: WABE.ORG

Dr. Marcellus Barksdale, Professor of History and Director of African-American Studies at Morehouse College and Chair of the Morehouse Sesquicentennial Project. IMAGE: WABE.ORG

The 150th Morehouse Anniversary History Project, as the Morehouse Sesquicentennial History Project was called at its inception, was established to plan for the 150th Anniversary of Morehouse College in 2017. The mission was to produce several scholarly and commemorative works that will mark this milestone in the history of “Dear Old Morehouse”.

There are nine subprojects in the massive enterprise. The centerpiece of the Sesquicentennial Project is the new narrative history of Morehouse that I am writing with the help of a research team. We hope to also produce an anthology of chapters on various aspects of the history of the College; a coffee table book; a book of documents; a book compiled of excerpts from the Alumni Oral History Project; an Alumni Papers Project (getting alumni to agree to donate that manuscript and memorabilia collections to Morehouse when we get a facility/archive that can handle them); courses on the history of Morehouse (I have designed this already); and, perhaps, the most daunting subproject of all, a film documenting the history of the College.

How Can Morehouse Alumni Participate?

Morehouse Alumni can participate in every aspect of the project!

Here’s a list of specific ways Alumni can participate:

  • by providing information to help me tell “The Morehouse Story”
  • the Alumni Oral History Project
  • the Alumni Paper Project
  • providing photographs for the coffee table book
  • providing important documents that may published in the book of documents
  • writing chapters on some aspect of the history of Morehouse that would be published in the anthology
  • being available to the producer(s) and director(s) of the film documentary;
  • contributing to the financial support of this massive project. Indeed, special recognition will be given to Morehouse Men and others who support the project in this way.

What about current Morehouse students?

As students are currently making history, to this extent we will document their achievements and successes. We are certainly infusing the history of student life and organizations in the work we are doing.

Will courses be offered on the history of Morehouse?

The new courses have not been presented to the faculty for approval, but will be done very soon. When I began the work of writing the new narrative history of the College that will expand the work of Benjamin G. Brawley, The History of Morehouse College, and Edward A. Jones, A Candle in the Dark, I studied the written histories of Duke University (my graduate alma mater), Harvard, Yale, Howard, Spelman and Stanford. These histories were written, for the most part, by historians. And while I am not certain that courses are currently being taught on the histories of these academies, it is highly likely that they were/are.

The fact of the matter is that courses on the history of Morehouse College are seriously needed for several reasons:  enlightenment of all students, but especially new students; orientation of new faculty; and as an addition to the requirements for the majors in African-American Studies and history.

How did you come about your position?

I was appointed by Dr. Robert M. Franklin, Tenth President of Morehouse College, with the support of the Provost and Board of Trustees.

This seems like a really big project….right?

Indeed, it is a very huge undertaking. But I did not join it, I was tasked with creating it.  As a graduate of Morehouse in the great Class of 1965, I am honored to have been asked to Chair the Morehouse Sesquicentennial Project. No greater legacy could I leave my alma mater.

What about the current Morehouse Alumni Oral History Project?

We will continue the Morehouse Alumni Oral History Project to 2017 and beyond. A class of Men of Morehouse will become Morehouse Men in the year of our sesquicentennial; and as alumni, their Morehouse Stories will need to be recorded and preserved. The history of the College will not stop in 2017, we will only pause for several days to commemorate and celebrate the 150 years of strivings, struggles, survival, and successes. Et Facta Est Lux!

What specific qualifications do you have to lead this project?

I hold a Ph.D. in history from Duke University; and all of the others who are working on the project are academics are professionals in their fields. The student interviewers are given pointers in oral history methodology. There is a standard set of questions the interviewers must ask.

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