VOICES:Atlanta Needs to Support the Morris Brown College Restoration

By Andrew Young 

Atlanta is known for its important role in both the Civil War and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Moreover, the city is historically linked to several HBCUs. One landmark in our city that many have forgotten is Morris Brown College. In 1881, 141 years ago, Morris Brown College was founded at Big Bethel AME Church by freed slaves. It is the only school in Georgia founded, funded, owned, and operated by Black people.

Pictured: Andrew Young

In 2002, shortly after being featured in the film Drumline, Morris Brown College lost its accreditation due to financial mismanagement by its then leader.The college appealed but eventually lost in spring 2003. The President at the time was accused of misappropriating millions of dollars and indicted on 27 charges, but in 2006 pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement — essentially admitting she defrauded about $11,000 (misappropriating student financial aid) to cover administrative costs at the college. The loss of accreditation crippled the institution. Astonishing to me, even without accreditation, never once since its founding has this national treasure closed its doors. It’s a story of resilience and grit.

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