Black History: Special Delivery
In 1969, actor Samuel L. Jackson was expelled from Morehouse College. As a student, Jackson was critical of Morehouse’s conservative culture and environment; describing the college as a, “breeding politically correct negroes”. Jackson joined the “Concerned Students” organization; which was sought to challenge the Morehouse board of trustees to revamp the college. The group was seeking four things: implementation of a Black studies program; increased community involvement with the housing projects near the campus; increase the number of people of color on the board of trustees so that they held majority voting rights; and for the six Black colleges in Atlanta to merge as into one institution, centered on Black Studies which would be known as Martin Luther King University.
When the Concern Students tried to share their recommendations with the board of trustees, they were quickly rebuffed. The group then locked themselves in the administration building with the board of trustees and would not allow them to leave. Board of trustee members were held by the Concerned Students for over 24 hours. One of the board of trustee members being held was Martin Luther King, Sr. the father of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Approximately 6 hours into the stand-off, King Sr. reported that he was experiencing chest pains and was released. Though the trustee chairman signed a statement granting group members amnesty, group members including Jackson were expelled at the end of the semester.
Rather than returning home, Jackson spent the summer volunteering for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. Jackson’s mother came to Atlanta and made him leave town fearing for his safety. She had been visited by FBI agents who warned her that if Jackson did not leave Atlanta, he would likely be dead within a year.