Education is a key component in any modern, progressive city's quest for excellence and progress. The city of Atlanta embraces educational diversity. As such there are numerous universities and colleges of higher learning located in the metro Atlanta area. In this post I would like to highlight those historically black colleges and universities that call metro Atlanta home. Please note that all the images in this post are clickable and will take you to the respective homepage that symbol represents. The first five five colleges and universities profiled below are part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium. The consortium structure allows for students to cross-register at the other institutions in order to attain a broader collegiate experience.
On June 24, 1988 Clark Atlanta University was formed. Prior to this, Clark Atlanta University was actually two separate institutions. The consolidation of Atlanta University and Clark College form what is known today as Clark Atlanta University. Atlanta University was founded in 1865 by the American Missionary Association. In the late 1870's, Atlanta University began granting Bachelor's Degrees and in the late 1920's and early 1930's it began offering graduate education. In 1877 Clark University was chartered by the Freedman's Aid Society of what would become the United Methodist Church. Clark University granted its first degree in 1880. The Clark Atlanta University Campus Cultural Creed is very informative for the casual observer.
The Interdenominational Theological Center was formed in 1958 through a joint effort of four different denominations from four different seminaries. The first member in this joint effort was the Morehouse School of Religion which joined as the Baptist representative. The Gammon School of Theology, the Methodist Episcopal Church representative, was originally affiliated with Clark Atlanta University as its department of philosophy and religion. The ties between the Gammon School of Theology and Clark Atlanta University were dissolved in 1888. Turner Theological Seminary had been the Morris Brown College department of theology. It officially joined the ITC in 1958 as the African Methodist Episcopal Church representative. The Phillips School of Theology is the fourth and final founding member of the Interdenominational Theological Center. The Phillips School of Theology is the only seminary of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1969 the Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, one of the ten theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which had originally been housed in Charlotte, North Carolina, relocated to Atlanta and joined the ITC. The last member of the Interdenominational Theological Center is the Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary which joined in 1970 and represents the Church of God in Christ. Though the Interdenominational Theological Center may not have formalized representations with other denominations, students of other denominations are welcomed and embraced. These "At-Large" students represent Disciples of Christ (Christian Church), United Church of Christ, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Lutheran, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic, as well as students who are non-denominational.
The Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) is a consortium of denominational seminaries whose mission is to educate Christian leaders for ministry and service in the Church and the global community. The ITC educates and nurtures women and men who commit to and practice a liberating and transforming spirituality; academic discipline; religious, gender, and cultural diversity; and justice and peace.
Originally founded as Augusta Institute in 1867 by Rev. William Jefferson White. The main purpose was the training of black men as ministers and teachers. The current campus was a gift of John D. Rockefellar and is actually a Civil War historic site. The modern era for Morehouse College began in 1906 with the appointment of the first African-American President, Dr. John Hope. Dr. Hope helped to expand the curriculum and openly opposed Booker T. Washington's view that African-American education should emphasize vocational and agricultural skills. Through vigorous fundraising and keeping the focus of Morehouse College on an ever expanding curriculum, the school is recognized as "as the No. 1 college in the nation for educating African Americans" by Black Enterprise Magazine. Click HERE to read the Morehouse College Mission Statement. Morehouse can claim numerous leaders and pioneers in every field among it storied alumni ranks. Here is a small sampling, Click HERE for a more complete list:
- Martin Luther King Jr. '48*
Nobel Peace Prize laureate and civil rights leader
- Herman Cain '67
Founder and CEO, T.H.E. New Voice, Inc.
(The Hermanator Experience, a motivational program for corporations and non-profits); Former Chairman of Godfather's Pizza Inc.
- Don Clendenon '56
New York Mets outfielder; 1969 World Series MVP
- Donald R. Hopkins Sr. '62
Senior Consultant, Carter Presidential Center; Director, Guinea Worm Eradication Program
- Samuel L. Jackson '72
Academy Award nominee, stage and
- David Satcher '63
Director, National Center for Primary Care, Morehouse School of Medicine; former U.S. Surgeon General; former president, Meharry and the Morehouse School of Medicine
- Maynard H. Jackson '56*
first African-American mayor of Atlanta
In 1973 the Morehouse School of Medicine received a federal grant which was only supposed to study the feasibility of creating a program to train primary care physicians to serve the underserved urban and rural areas of Georgia. This was the impetus that propelled the full fledged Morehouse School of Medicine that became independent of Morehouse College in 1981. Morehouse School of Medicine accepts only the best candidates and is ranked in the top five of US medical schools. In 2007, 3,600 students applied for the Doctor of Medicine program, fifty-two were admitted.
Atlanta's premier public health facility, Grady Memorial Hospital, is the primary teaching facility for Morehouse School of Medicine students and residents. Grady is the only hospital in Georgia with a Level 1 trauma center and it is an integral part of the public health of Atlanta. As a public hospital, it is not without its problems. But the continued commitment of the Morehouse School of Medicine provides the highest level of healthcare available to the underserved of Atlanta.
Click HERE for the latest NBC Local News Affiliate story on the recent financial troubles at Grady Memorial Hospital
Spelman College is an all female school that actually began as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary in a church basement in 1881. Two brave women, Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles founded this basement school. With a $250 grant from John D. Rockefellar the school hired two more full time teachers and moved to its present day location and opened to train teachers. In 1887 the first Spelman graduates receive high school diplomas. Another milestone for Spelman is the 1959 agreement signed with Grady Memorial Hospital to train nurses. In 2003, Spelmen was named in the top 100 Best Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News and World Report.
In May of 1885, the State of Georgia granted a charter to Morris Brown College of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Originally, the Big Bethel Church organization was seeking funds to furnish a room at Clark College but the reasoning went that if a room could be furnished, a school could be built. this idea took root in the mind of Reverend Wesley John Gaines which eventually lead to the formation and charter of Morris Brown College. Morris Brown College promotes itself as "The Only Institution in Georgia Founded by African-Americans for African-Americans".
These excellent colleges and universities all call Atlanta home. They all contribute to the cultural and intellectual character that is Atlanta. There are numerous other colleges and universities that call Atlanta home but in the spirit of Black History Month and the general spirit of diversity, I am happy to have had the opportunity to present these great institutions.
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