In 85-degree, early spring weather, Adam McFarland removes his navy blazer and, in an oxford shirt, red tie, and dress shoes, steps forward onto the asphalt. With a loud yell, he sets his limbs loose in all directions. Soon, with a jolting uniformity born of practice, other steppers join the student government president's routine. He and those who dance at his side represent Morehouse College, and putting the best foot forward is what they have been trained to do, literally and figuratively.
As a senior, McFarland was about to become a "Morehouse Man," a graduate of one of the country's most prestigious historically black colleges. From actors Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson to social activists Howard Thurman and perhaps the most revered alumnus, Martin Luther King Jr., Morehouse Men have been groomed to be leaders.
Along with following an "appropriate attire policy" recently implemented by President Robert Franklin, students are expected to be well spoken, well read, and well balanced, as well as actively engaged.
While some complain about their school's worn-with-age facilities, the young men walk the campus with a respect for its history. They are careful to keep off the central green, a Civil War battlefield, and in times of both tragedy and celebration they heed the call of a bell that once warned the neighborhood of threats by the Ku Klux Klan.
Of the mottos that students live by, one stands out: "Define yourself. Redefine the world." Students say the all-male, predominantly African-American college offers a space to discover and take pride in one's strengths, a space some feel is missing elsewhere in society. "Some people say we have an arrogance, but it's just confidence," says junior Vallmer Jordan. "You don't only find yourself at Morehouse, you learn to be yourself."
More About Morehouse College:
Fact: The campus sits next door to the all-female Spelman College, so women remain a part of the social scene.
Undergrad enrollment, 2009: 2,628
Est. annual cost, 2010-2011: $32,322
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