Sunday, May 17, 2009

Black Scholars Speak Up on the Morehouse College Shooting Incident

After the recent shooting incident between two Morehouse College students, we felt compelled to make sure that Black scholars from around the nation had an opportunity to chime in.

Juan E. Gilbert, Ph.D., President of the Brothers of the Academy

"When I saw this story on CNN, I thought there was something strange about it. Here's a young man that is a 2nd or 3rd generation Morehouse man that had to leave school after being shot by a young man that is graduating, what? It appeared to me that there is more to this story than meets the eye. I don't know the full story, but there has to be more to this story. Lets keep it real, I am all about giving a young Black man a second chance, but how did he get to come back to the same school as the victim? I don't have answers, just questions.”


Picture of Dr. Ricky Jones

Dr. Ricky L. Jones, Professor of Pan African Studies, University of Louisville

As a Morehouse graduate, this is a disturbing situation.  But, I sincerely hope people are willing and able to put it into proper context and not succumb to sensationalistic reporting or opinions.  Of great concern is the fact that we have one black man shooting another . . . again!  The fact that these guys were Morehouse students is secondary.  

That said, the reality that these were Men of Morehouse is certainly tough for those of us who belong to the Morehouse fraternity.  We have a long and proud history of taking care of one another – not harming one another.  That is a history that Morehouse Men from Martin Luther King, Jr. to President Robert Franklin to the 2009 graduate with the lowest G.P.A. share.  That has to be continuously reinforced to all who walk the school’s halls.

Finally, while there is legitimate concern that the administration made the decision to readmit a student who shot another, I am willing to wait for the President’s full reasoning and explanation about that.  And maybe most importantly we need to keep in mind that this is more than a Morehouse problem.  This is another indication of how intoxicated American society is with guns and violence.  Unfortunately, Morehouse College is not the Rx for that sickness.  It bleeds into every crack and crevice of our lives.  
Ricky L. Jones is a graduate of Morehouse College Class of 1992.  He is Professor of Pan African Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Crime and Justice and the University of Louisville.  He is the author of “What’s Wrong with Obamamania?: Black America, Black Leadership and the Death of Political Imagination.”   


Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Columbia University

“Institutions like Morehouse College have a long and deep history of 
producing some of the most extraordinary Black men in the world. 
Sometimes, this tradition forces the institution into a protective 
posture that privileges "respectability" over "responsibility." This 
tragedy also highlights the ways in which HBCUs sometimes replicate 
the same class-based inequalities that govern the institutional 
decision making of predominately white universities.”


Deborah Stroman, Department of Sport Science, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


“What's wrong with Black America? Missing Black fathers...too many babies out of wedlock...economic impotence...a lack of ambition and a sense of hopelessness in our youth...too many balls and not enough books...toxic churches led by wolves preying on the sheep...obesity and its effects on our nauseum. How about adding a lack of accountability and responsibility? Sadly enough, when the time came to shoot a layup -- that is, take action and do the right thing, the leaders at Morehouse College missed the mark.  For Mr. Johnson and the entire Morehouse College community to have been disrespected with the decision to allow Mr. Norris to finish his degree after such a violent act is a travesty to the opportunity to join a prestigious community of scholars. Higher education is a privilege, not a right. Mr. Norris can certainly have a good laugh as he proudly displays his Morehouse diploma on his wall. He is a Morehouse man now. Whatever. He can snicker at an administration that chose to coddle a coward at the expense of a rich tradition, bright young minds, proud alumnni and an unblemished reputation. Unfortunately, this action will not go unnoticed. An unwanted spotlight is now on the College; potential candidates, donors and sponsors will undoubtedly give the idea of matriculation and financial support a second thought. Just what another HBCU needs at THIS time...And who can blame them? Yes, there are always more details that the public is not made immediately aware of in criminal cases. However, the fact that the administration acted prior to the judge's decision makes one wonder if they acted in a responsible manner. Could the decision have been an economic one?

If the definition of character is what you do when no one is watching, then the current Morehouse administration has a major blemish and there is cause for major concern. There is now new meaning to being called a Morehouse man. Mr. Johnson, please don't lose sleep over not receiving that diploma. Your courage and decision to close that chapter in your life is the best example to demonstrate to our youth. Move forward with your dream to attend law school and use this example to promote real justice. Let's just hope that Morehouse will learn its lesson and begin to display accountability to those whom it serves and seeks to represent. For surely, this case is a demonstration of what IS wrong in Black America.”


Dr. Tommy Whittler, Professor of Marketing, Depaul University

“In response to your question about Morehouse's handling of the shooting on campus, I can only consider it from the "consumer-side," not the "marketing" and "political" sides.

I just do not see parents preventing their children from enrolling at Morehouse given this unfortunate event.

It certainly puts a stain on the university for allowing a convicted individual back on campus.  It certainly reeks of politics that this young man is allowed to continue his life, whereas the victim was "forced" to transfer to an out of state college given the college's unseemly decision.  But applications and enrollments to Morehouse will not, in my humble opinion, decrease because of this ruling.
I see such a decline happening under one circumstance; that is, that all aspects of the situation are brought to light in a public forum.  Specifically, some in-depth analysis of the entire event must be presented.  I am thinking something like "48 Hours," "60 Minutes,"  or some other expose' must be conducted.  Then, and only then, will people do a double take of the decision university officials made.”

Dr. Christopher Metzler, Georgetown University

Morehouse College continues to stand alone in the minds of many because of its dedication to build strong black men. Which is why so many of us are asking why Joshua Brandon who shot fellow classmate Rashad Johnson got his diploma from Morehouse while Rashad Johnson lies in agony. Asked to comment, Morehouse issued a languid, wobbly retort "The college cannot comment on specific student conduct matters, incidents of inappropriate student behavior, whether on or off campus."  Is this the best that a community of scholars can do?

According to Morehouse its mission is " to produce academically superior, morally conscious leaders for the conditions and issues of today, whether “today” is post-Civil War or turn of the new millennium. " Surely Morehouse does not see its decision in this case to be morally conscious. The administration does not expect us to believe that it had no choice because of the plea bargain. Of course we all know that what is legal is not always moral. In this case,
Morehouse chose the legal over the moral.

Finally, the Judge in this case Marvin Arrington  is the poster child for judges trying to legislate morality from the bench. He should have know that this plea bargain was simply wrong. Judge Marvin Arrington and his penchant to do social work from the bench leads me to think that it is social work, not law that is his calling.

Technorati Tags: marc lamont hill,juan gilbert,black scholars,african american scholars,morehouse college,morehouse shooting,black public scholars


Monica said...

As a parent of three young men, this would give me pause if one of them considered attending the school. No parent wants to receive a call that their child has been shot and/or killed over a simple dispute.

My oldest son who is 19 years old was attending Tuskegee and encountered a small dispute with someone who initiated things with my son first. When my son took up for himself, this student along with his friends showed up at his room with a gun.

For three days, my son was held hostage in his dorm room for fear that they would shoot him. They sat outside the building waiting for him to exit and taunted his friends. It took almost a week before the school apprehended this student but I was so afraid for my son that he was brought home.

Two of his other friends who were being harrassed were also removed from the school. My son didn't get to take his finals and now I am currently fighting the school because they want to give him "W". How do you feel entitled to keep money when you are acting as if he never attended and not allowing him to finish?

But the student who pulled the gun received a 1 year suspension. Why would you consider even allowing him to return to the school after this incident.

These HBCUs need to take these matters more seriously or they will find many more parents pulling their children and not allowing them to attend at all. While we want them to obtain all that comes with attending these "prestigous" schools, it isn't so much that we'll compromise our childs safety if we feel it's an issue.

Anonymous said...

OMG! That story is crazy! I can't believe Tuskegee would do something like that! I am not sure how traumatized I would feel to find out that my child had to have his life threatened while he was supposed to go to college. I would never send my child to a school that lets something like that happen to him.

Scarlet Morgan said...

Because the shooter wasn't given appropriate consequences for his action, he can't learn from this experience. There will be a price to pay for all lessons unlearned.

Anonymous said...

This situation is bullshit. Morehouse should be ashamed and this makes no sense that Morehouse would allow this to happen.