I have had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Dr. Pritchett in his office at Morris Brown about six weeks ago. We discussed the opportunities and possibilities that exist at the college. Morris Brown is on the door step of having their accreditation restored and being a healthy, contributing entity in Vine City, the AUC and greater Atlanta as a whole. This move by a creditor to call in a loan and foreclose on the property is in response to what is the beginning of the revitalization of the areas surrounding the Atlanta Beltline Project and the new Wal-Mart location on MLK Jr. Drive. What happened to the Kirkwood and East Lake communities is beginning to happen in Vine City and the Historic West End.
As a child, I remember the Kirkwood community where I had several friends since my family attended a house of worship in that community. I remember East Lake Meadows, or Little Vietnam as it was called. I had family who lived in the Kirkwood area, friends who lived in the community and attended school there. I remember how rough the East Lake and Kirkwood were.
Then it began to change. Little Vietnam was leveled. A Publix grocery store opened and the community began to change. First couples moved in, then families. They began renovating their homes and others bought the relatively cheap property and renovated it. Soon home prices began to soar along with property values, followed by property taxes. The older home owners, faced with higher taxes on their fixed income were almost forced to sell the homes they raised their families in.
Now the East Lake and Kirkwood are vibrant with new stores, new eateries and a charm that was never there in the late 70's through late 80's. People walk after dark with their little children to their homes after leaving local diners or entertainment venues now. The East Lake and Kirkwood communities are a precursor to what happens when private investment, coupled with depressed property values in a neighborhood with tremendous potential exist together.
If the creditor does foreclose on Morris Brown and sells the property, it will be the first phase of the redevelopment of the area. The historic buildings will remain, but in ten years, only placards of what is now Morris Brown College will be the only thing left to remind us of what once was. All along MLK Jr. Drive, from the Dome to Westview Cemetery, the renovation of homes will begin. As the Beltline Project nears completion, old apartment complexes will be torn down to make way for new apartments and condos. The Historic West End will be nothing like what we have today.
Progress? Yes. It is progress. But all of this will happen even if Morris Brown College stays. In fact, if the college remains, the progress will happen even faster! Morris Brown College is on the verge of changing the way colleges educate students. Morris Brown College is at the fore-front of how businesses are created and how new ideas and new methods to solve problems are developed. What the community needs to know is that Morris Brown has one foot OUT of the fire and is poised to rise up from the ashes like the great Phoenix that symbolizes our city. Morris Brown College has fought and survived the worst and through all the adversities, Morris Brown College will emerge stronger, more progressive and smarter than any institution of similar stature.
Without Morris Brown College, there will be a gaping hole in the heart of this city, in the history of black achievement and nothing will fill that void. More than history, more than Wolverine Pride, more than the voices and faces of the countless graduates of Morris Brown, we, as a city, owe it to ourselves to stand up and take action to preserve Morris Brown.
As many of you join together in a day of prayer, please remember that faith without works is dead. (James 2:17). Faith requires work. Work requires effort and efforts are rewarded. So pray and after you pray, grab a trash bag and help clean up the campus. Bring a lawn mower and cut some grass. Reach over and pull some weeds. Sweep a walkway or lend a hand in any way you can. You can pray for divine intervention but you can also work toward those prayers being answered.
In the book of Matthew 17:20, Jesus told his followers, "...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Come out on move mountains this Sunday. After you praise the Lord, work in harmony with your prayers by making the impossible possible. Join me in reclaiming Morris Brown College. Because no matter what is announced on Saturday, the fight will not be over; the challenges will not stop and the work that must be done will STILL need to be done.