A Haunting Photographic Essay on Morris Brown College

MBCBookThe University of Georgia Press has published a striking new book chronicling the troubles of historically Black Morris Brown College in Atlanta.

In 2002, Morris Brown College lost its accreditation due to an unstable financial position. Since that time, the college has struggled to remain open. Much of the campus is in disrepair and many of the college’s buildings have been boarded up. In 2012, the college filed for bankruptcy. As part of the reorganization plan, the college sold 26 acres of land to the city adjacent to the new stadium for the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons. Morris Brown College retains ownership of three campus buildings.

The book Without Regard to Sex, Race, or Color: The Past Present, and Future of One Historically Black College, includes a photographic essay by Andrew Feiler, an award-winning photographer of the American South. The photographs paint an eerie picture of empty classrooms, crumbling dormitories, and neglected facilities.

In addition to the photographs are four essays discussing the past, present, and future of not only Morris Brown College but historically Black colleges and universities generally. In one essay Pellom McDaniels III, curator of African American collections at the Manuscript Archives and Rare Book Library at Emory University, writes that “Feiler’s lens captures what on the surface appear to be abandoned buildings, facilities, and former living spaces of hopeful individuals, now void of life and activities central to institutions for higher education. The bare walls and empty classrooms provide traces of what was, while resonating with a powerful reminder of what still can be.”

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  1. It is an enigma for me to understand why the University of Georgia felt it necessary to publish such a book regarding Morris Brown College. What was the point? Morris Brown is now rebounding, and has an initiative to revitalize “The New Morris Brown”. Alumni and friends of the College are currently engaged in a $100 million fund raising campaign to ensure financial stability. Accreditation, hopefully, will be attained within the next academic year. Other colleges have been in worse shape than Morris Brown, some had to close. I hope that any additional writing will be in a positive vein and encourage support for the College.

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