Page 2 of 2   <      

A Message From Morehouse

"Profanity does not reflect your verbal grace and style," he said. "It suggests a lazy mind."

Franklin's thoughts on diversity and decorum are required reading.

"As an all-male institution with the explicit mission of educating men with disciplined minds," said Franklin, "the great challenge of this moment in history is our diversity of sexual orientation."

"Why don't we," he asked the students, "use this opportunity to model something our community needs?"

"Straight men," Franklin said, "should learn more about the outlooks and contributions of gay men. Read a book by a gay author. Have an intelligent conversation with a gay neighbor." Franklin reminded the Morehouse students: "At a time when it was truly scandalous to have homosexual friends or associates, Dr. King looked to Bayard Rustin, a black gay man, as a trusted adviser. And, Malcolm X regarded James Baldwin, a black gay man, as a brilliant chronicler of the black experience."

"To my straight brothers," he said, "diversity at Morehouse is an opportunity that can enrich your education if you are courageous enough to seize the opportunity. We cannot force you, but we invite you to learn from your environment."

On decorum and dress: "I have not desired to be overly prescriptive about this. You do not have to wear a tie and jacket to class, although no one would object to it. You're a college student. You can enjoy yourself while wearing comfortable clothing that respects the fact that you are part of a community of educated and ethical men."

But, he demanded, "in the presence of adult learners, do not sag your pants, do not show your undergarments. Do not wear do-rags, and do not wear baseball caps in class or in the cafeteria."

"Wear what you wish to off campus," he said. "But, while you are here on the ground where [Benjamin] Mays and Martin [Luther King Jr.] and Maynard [Jackson] walked, those items are off limits."

"If you want to be part of something rare and noble, something that the world has not often seen -- a community of educated, ethical, disciplined black men more powerful than a standing army -- then you've come to the right place."

To the knuckleheads and clowns who exploit their color while degrading their legacy, Franklin declared: "If you cannot follow the guidelines of a moral community, then leave."

Let the church say "Amen."

kingc@washpost.com


<       2

© 2009 The Washington Post Company