You can’t think of the ATL without the crown jewels of the Atlanta University Center — Morehouse College and Spelman College — coming to mind.
Both colleges have come a long way since they were established as baptist seminaries, educating a variety of politicians, civil rights legends, and creatives in the last century and a half. And we can’t forget to thank Spelhouse for the greatest (and most notorious) Black college street party the world has ever seen.
Here are some of the most notable Morehouse men and Spelmanites, from those who have cemented their place in our history books to key influencers who are making waves today.
Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘48
The legendary civil rights pioneer is an Atlanta native who doesn’t get enough credit for his radical economic philosophies and campaigns against American imperialism and poverty. Entering Morehouse college at 15, Dr. King received his B.A. in sociology in 1948.
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Randall Woodfin ‘03
This Maroon was recently elected as mayor of Birmingham, Alabama becoming the city’s youngest mayor in modern history.
Randall Woodfin ‘03
Spike Lee ‘79
The veteran, award-winning filmaker and courtside fan of every major sports league imaginable got his start at Morehouse, where he made his first student film and received his B.A. in mass communication.
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Seith Mann ‘95
A prominent film director and creator of VH1’s hip-hop drama The Breaks, Mann received an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series.
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Samuel L. Jackson ‘72
Some would say Samuel L. Jackson is on the cusp, Dec 21.
Shaun King ‘01
The former Senior Social Justice Reporter at the New York Daily News, first made headlines for his dedicated independent coverage of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. King is now at Writer in Residence at Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project.
Fonzworth Bently ‘96
Once a mainstay at the side of Shaun “ Diddy” Combs, Fonzworth has stepped out on his own. Most recently, you may have seen his cameo in the instant classic, Black-ish Juneteenth episode. Beyond his two-step on camera, Bently produced the episode’s musical numbers.
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Marian Wright Edelman ’60
The children’s activist and MacArthur Fellowship winner is the founder & president of the Children’s Defense Fund.
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Though Walker didn’t graduate from Spelman, the legendary novelist, poet, and The Color Purple attended the college on scholarship until 1963.
Stacey Abrams ‘95
The state representative who moonlights as a romance novelist, could make history as Georgia’s first black governor.
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Adrienne-Joi Johnson ‘85
This actress-turned-celebrity fitness trainer was ubiquitous in black movie classics, like School Daze, Housparty, and Sister Act. Lately “A.J.” Johnson can be found being all of our #bodygoals, as the 54-year-old life coach and trainer continues to provide inspiration in special guest appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s network and HSN.
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Shaun Robinson ‘80
The veteran media personality hosted Access Hollywood for nearly two decades, garnering Emmy awards and creating a nonprofit organization for girls and young women in the process
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Pearl Cleage ‘71
An award-winning playwright, Cleage left the land of the bison to become a jaguar, transfering from Howard and receiving a B.A. in Drama. The renowned writer’s poem “We Speak Your Names” was a highlight of Oprah’s famous Legend’s Ball.
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Keisha Knith Puliam ‘01
Pulliam became a national star during her portrayal of Rudy Huxtable in the classic The Cosby Show, for which she beame the youngest actress nominated for an Emmy Award.
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Varnette Patricia Honeywood ‘72
If you’ve ever stepped foot in a black-owned bookstore, you have probably seen the signature illustrations and paintings of this Spelmanite. Honeywood’s colorful depictions of black life landed in The Cosby Show, Amen, 227, and A Different World.