I Went to Morehouse College, But Morgan State University Was the First HBCU I Fell in Love With

Illustration for article titled I Went to Morehouse College, But Morgan State University Was the First HBCU I Fell in Love With
Photo: Maura Phillips (Getty Images for Honda)

There’s nothing like a good ole Facebook Memory, eh? This morning, while logging into the ‘Book, I was reminded of a discussion I started on November 29, 2017 (a year ago), spurred by an episode of This Is US about which historically black college or university (HBCU) was the most well-known. Here’s an excerpt (edited for brevity):

Last night, Howard University was prominently featured in the emotionally manipulative show This Is Us...

Souped up on Howard’s presence, (my wife), this morning, asked me, paraphrasing, “Do you feel some type of way, as a Morehouse grad, that Howard gets all the love when it comes to HBCUs? Like when people think HBCUs, they think Howard?”

Me: I don’t think that’s accurate. What are you basing that on?

Her: What are you talking about? I’m basing this on everything.

I do think she’s wrong. I think Northerners probably think of Howard when it comes to HBCUs since there are so few HBCU’s up north. Or maybe everywhere but the south. But if you ask a Floridian I’m pretty positive they’re thinking of FAMU first. Same with Southern or Grambling in Louisiana. I’ll bet more people in Alabama think of Alabama A&M or Alabama State first before thinking of Howard.

The point here is that I think the answer to the most well known HBCU comes down to who you’re asking and where they’re located. I definitely think that Morehouse and Spelman are up there. But perhaps I’m biased because of where I went to school. If we’re saying Howard is the most prominent HBCU, who are we asking that would say that?


That ensuing convo was fun and brimming with school shoutouts and loyalty, and I think my regionalism argument has merit. Many people do, however, think that Howard is the most well-known HBCU for many reasons. Obviously, a Facebook posting isn’t evidence; we need to get Congress to commission a study right after we get our reparations. But one interesting discussion that occurred was about how people became introduced to HBCUs.

It reminded me of my own introduction to HBCUs, because while I went to and graduated from Morehouse College, the first HBCU that truly mattered to me was Morgan State University in Baltimore.

My dad was attending Alabama A&M when I graduated from high school and my mother never really encouraged (or even mentioned) her alma mater, Albany State University, while I was doing my college searches. Despite the fact that both my parents went to HBCUs and my grandmother in Atlanta lived less than 10 minutes from the Atlanta University Center (then including Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta, Morris Brown and the Interdenominational Theological Center) I really didn’t know much about HBCUs. I knew they existed, but I didn’t get the significance; they were just options for my potential college experience.

When it was all said and done, I decided on Morehouse because while I was goofing off in AP Calculus in high school one day with one of my best friends in life, he told me that’s where he was going and suggested I go as well so we could be roommates. I applied, got a scholarship, attended a summer program for STEM majors, and the rest was history. It was the best decision I ever made.

Before that decision, one HBCU that sent me information had my full attention, though: Morgan State University. I don’t know if it was the brochure, the tremendous amount of information they sent once I made contact with them, or the conversations I had with the admissions officer, but in my heart, I’d decided that I wanted to attend Morgan State. I started looking up information on the school and who’d attended, I even started looking into Baltimore. The Morgan State University logo even drew me in. The students looked like they loved it, and I was going to go be an engineer, and that was going to be it. I even liked the school colors. Color me all in.

I had my ACT and SAT scores sent there, and I was accepted....but I didn’t get any scholarship offers, which for me was a big deal. It was very important that my parents not have to foot the bill for my education, plus I had full-ride offers from other schools. I still held out hope that I’d somehow end up at Morgan State, but as time passed and acceptances and offers showed up from Florida A&M University (I came reaaaaaaally close to going there), Tuskegee, Morehouse, the University of Alabama, the University of Michigan, and the school that has to have the best pamphlet budget of all time, Washington University-St. Louis, Morgan State fell further and further behind in terms of me actually going there. Cash did indeed rule everything around me.


Plus, once Morehouse sent that money and my boy and I had made our plans to be roommates, in my head, I was already well on my way to becoming a Morehouse Man. Plus, I liked how proud people were when I told them I was going to Morehouse. And to be clear, at that point, the school didn’t matter nearly as much to me as it did to other people; I wasn’t up on history like I should have been.

So the right choice was made for various reasons and life works out how it should. But Morgan State University will always be that first HBCU I fell in love with.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



Morehouse is like the only HBCU most white people have ever heard of, including Howard.


FAMU tried to trick me into going there with their Life-Gets-Better Scholarship too... I was like.. I DIN’T EVEN APPLY TO YOUR SCHOOL...

you know my parents tried to make me go cause... “somethin...somethin...free money...blah.. somethin

anyway, everyone I know who got that FAMU full ride, transferred to another school.