Over the heads of students, Morehouse holds a crown that they are challenged to grow tall enough to wear.
John Hope and Howard Thurman ‘23
Educator, Minister, Theologian, Philosopher and Author
Howard Washington Thurman (1899-1981) was considered by many to have been a "twentieth century holy man." Named one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century" by Life magazine, Thurman is an unsung hero of the human and civil rights movement as well as an early advocate of a religious movement that celebrated the unity of all people and a form of spirituality that was intercultural, interracial, interdenominational, interfaith, intersubjective, and international.
Thurman graduated as valedictorian from Morehouse College in 1923. He was both a professor and the director of spiritual life at Morehouse College from 1928 to 1931. Thurman would begin his lectures or meditation sessions with an interesting display of "cold hard facts," as he was wont to call them, but culminate in a crescendo of philosophical or religious if not mystical insight. He insisted that his best teaching took place outside the classroom.
At the Centennial banquet of Morehouse College in February 1967 Thurman argued that "while the educational process is justified, in part, by its public outcomes, the most significant measure of higher education among African Americans has been its private results. The creative genius of Morehouse College," as Thurman described it, consisted in an educational process that fostered a "primary intimate encounter that insisted that it was their prerogative and that it was mandatory to experience themselves as human beings," that is, not only to recognize their potential but also "to get on the scent of their potential and follow it all the way."
In addition to teaching at Morehouse, he served at other HBCUs including Spelman College and Howard University.