Parent's Parting Ceremony

In the ancient African tradition of sending a warrior away from home for battle, the legendary Morehouse Parent’s Parting Ceremony signals the final transition from boy with potential to Man of Morehouse. This ceremony, unique among any on a college campus, prepares both the young man and the family for the journey ahead– separated by distance but forever unified by values, trust, respect, loyalty, goodwill, and love. 

Parent's Parting Ceremony

“Walk among the hills listening to the Voice. Then, become the Voice.” (1979) “Morehouse, do not make God repent for having created you.” (1980) –Howard Thurman


African Drummers

“While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone.” 2 Samuel 18:24 (NIV)


The Summons by African Drummers to Gather Round
  • The Entrance of the Classes of 2020 and 2021
  • The Summons of the Village Elders: Mentors of the Mystique
  • The Distinguished Alumnus Elder
The Testimony
The Exhortation
  • The Chief Elder of the Village
The Passing of the Baton
  • The Academic and Admissions Elder
  • The Freshmen Elder
The Celebration of High Expectations
  • The Dance Elder
The Call for Determination
  • The Student Elder
  • The Chapel Elder
  • The Distinguished Alumnus Elder
  • The Lighting of the Carey Henry Wynn II ’70 Urn*
NSO Transcendence


The Petitions to Enter the House
  • The Student Services Elder
The Pageantry of the Thurman Chest
  • The Parents’ Representative Elders
The Induction
  • The Morehouse Mystique Elder
The Parting of the Parents
  • The Music Elder
NSO Thurman


The Ferrymen and Watchmen Bearing Witness on the Wall
  • II Samuel 18:24 (NIV) and Ezekiel 33:7 (KJV)
The Opening of the Howard Washington and Sue Bailey Thurman Crypt
The Entrance of the Parents’ Representative Elders with the Thurman Chest of High Expectations
The Tolling of the Thurman Bell and the Roll Call in Witness to the Thirteen Chief Elders of the Village
The Ringing of the 1787 Silver Bluff Springfield Baptist Church Bell to Begin the School Year
New Students Singing the College Hymn
  • “Dear Old Morehouse”
    By J.O.B. Moseley ’29
The Benediction
  • The Founder’s Representative Elder
NSO Bell


The new students start to soar on the path of “The Infinite Way” to being moral cosmopolitan leaders in the Global Commonwealth of Citizens.

The Magic of the Ben Ben Stone

NSO Thurman

It was the tendency of the ancient monument-builders of the Nile to codify their symbolic teachings in stone. Thus, for those who knew the “language,” the physical structure and placement of a monument, temple, or other sacred building unveiled a deeper story.

The Ben Ben, or “obelisk,” was such a significant monument that, during the New Kingdom (1580-1200 BC), it came to symbolize Kemit itself. The Ben Ben was clearly a sun and light symbol, dedicated to Ra, embodying the transcendence immanent in Ra’s Light. The Ben Ben’s soaring lines were meant to evoke this transcendence and its connection to the solar light was imbued in the capstone or pyramidion, coated in a gold-silver alloy called nubhedj (“electrum”), with a brilliant reflection could be seen 50 miles away on a clear day.

The term Ben Ben is a doubling of the old Kamite word ben meaning “man, phallus, beget.” It is the source of the Hebrew ben or Arabin ibn meaning “son of.” The ancient Nile dwellers clearly understood that the rays of the sun fructified the earth and all life upon it and therefore made that all important heavenly body the archetypal symbol of the Heavenly Father whom they called Ra. The Ben Ben, though, is more than a mere “phallic symbol”; it is a sign of the sun (or Ra’s) fructifying light-ray materialized in granite.

In the mind of the ancient priests of the Nile, light, consciousness, and understanding were synonymous. Thus, the Ben Ben codified the process of enlightenment, achieved through the correct acquisition of knowledge and the slow revelation of cosmic wisdom. Under such influence, dark mysteries and unexamined secrets were made manifest. The Ben Ben yet retains its power to inspire the imagination, and to encapsulate transcendence. Again and again, the modern architect re-erects obeliscoid forms because the elegant, geometric harmony of the Ben Ben speaks a language that continually excites the creative instincts of man. Time and again, we return to this ancient architectural form not because we lack other models, but because it expresses for us the cosmic imperative of our indwelling spirit. Through the Ben Ben, we pay homage to the Light Bringer, the Father of All, and the best of His Creation.

By Dr. Charles Sumner Finch III
Former Director of International Programs, Morehouse School of Medicine


Like the Ben Ben Stone, Morehouse’s Howard Washington Thurman Memorial is constructed in the shape of an obelisk. The Howard Washington Thurman Memorial obelisk on the Morehouse College campus is a celebration of the process of enlightenment, achieved through the deliberate acquisition of knowledge, understanding, and the slow revelation of cosmic wisdom.

The monument rises near the footprint of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel and marks the resting place of Thurman, a 1923 Morehouse graduate and nationally-respected theologian. Thurman was considered a forerunner in the religious movement which celebrates the unity of all people and embraces a religious spirituality that is intercultural, interracial, interdenominational, and international.

Historically (1580-1200 B.C.), the obelisk was a sun and light symbol, embodying the transcendence immanent in God’s light. The soaring lines of the obelisk were meant to evoke this transcendence, and its capstone, often coated in gold-silver alloy, reflected light that could be seen 50 miles away. The ancient priests believed that light, consciousness, and understanding were synonymous.

The obelisk remains a symbol of man’s creativity and wisdom. At Morehouse, the monument serves as a beacon for scholarly pursuits, visionary leadership, compassionate service, and a worldview that inspires positive change.

By Benjamin Elijah Mays

Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays
The Tragedy In Life

“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal.
The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to
dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is
a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars,
but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for.
Not failure, but low aim is sin.”

Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, ’67 (Hon.)
President of Morehouse College (1940–1967)

“There is an air of expectancy at Morehouse. It is expected that the student who enters here will
do well. It is also expected that once a man bears the insignia of a Morehouse graduate, he will do
exceptionally well. We expect nothing less… May you perform so well that when a man is needed
for an important job in your field, your work will be so impressive that the committee of selection
will be compelled to examine your credentials. May you forever stand for something noble and
high. Let no man dismiss you with a wave of the hand or shrug of the shoulder…”

Charge to the Graduating Class of 1961
By Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

Songs, Hymns, and Poems

I Release and I Let Go


There was a time in my life I thought
I had to do it all for myself
I didn’t know the grace of God was sufficient
Didn’t know the love of God was at hand
But now I can say if you are discouraged
Struggling just to make it through another day
You’ve got to let it go, let it all go and this is
what you have to say:


I release and I let go
I let the Spirit run my [his] life
and my [his] heart is open wide
Yes, we’re only here for God
No more struggle no more strife
With my faith I see the light
I am [He is] free in the Spirit
Yes, we’re only here for God.

Words and Music by
Michael Beckwith and Rickie Byars Beckwith

Dear Old Morehouse

Dear old Morehouse, dear old Morehouse,
We have pledged our lives to thee;
And we’ll ever, yea forever
Give ourselves in loyalty.
True forever, true forever,
To old Morehouse may we be;
So to bind each son the other
Into ties more brotherly.
Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit
Make us steadfast, honest, true,
To old Morehouse, and her ideals,
And in all things that we do.

-J.O.B. Moseley ’29

There is no chance, no destiny, no fate,
can circumvent or hinder or control
the firm resolve of a determined soul.
Gifts count for nothing; will alone is great;
all things give way before it, soon or late.
What obstacle can stay the mighty force
of the sea-seeking river in its course,
or cause the ascending orb of day to wait?
Each well-born soul must win what it deserves.
Let the fool prate [talk idly] of luck. The fortunate
is he whose earnest purpose never swerves,
whose slightest action or inaction serves
the one great aim. Why, even Death stands still,
and waits an hour sometimes for such a will.
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
As loved by Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr. ’56

On Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said,
Speak to us of children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
By Kahlil Gibran
The Prophet (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1923) 17–18

He who does not look ahead always remains behind.” –Nigerian Proverb

“While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone.” 2 Samuel 18:24 (NIV) “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” Ezekiel 33:7 (KJV)