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Thread: Black College Produces its first White Valedictorian (Great Story)

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    Unregistered Bringthetruth's Avatar
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    Black College Produces its first White Valedictorian (Great Story)

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/05/16/whi...ian/index.html

    ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Joshua Packwood knows what it's like to be a minority.

    This weekend he'll be the first white valedictorian to graduate from the historically black, all male Morehouse College in the school's 141-year history.

    Morehouse, in Atlanta, Georgia, is one the nation's most prestigious universities of its kind. For more than a century, the school has prided itself on personifying the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the school's most notable alums, by producing "Morehouse Men" - intelligent and successful black leaders.

    "Because I'm one of the only white students, it's easy to call me 'the white boy,' I'm naturally going to stand out," says Packwood.

    But Packwood, 22, doesn't stand out solely because he is white or has maintained a 4.0 grade point average. For those who don't know him, what is surprising is that a Rhodes Scholar finalist turned down a full scholarship to Columbia University to attend the all-black men's university.

    This came naturally to Packwood, who attended a predominantly black high school.

    "A large majority of my friends, like all my girlfriends have been minorities," says Packwood. "So it was very, it was kind of strange that I always kind of gravitated to the black community."

    Packwood fit in immediately at Morehouse. His charm, movie-star good looks and chiseled physique made him popular among students. He was elected dorm president and to class council during freshmen year - and was a favorite at campus fashion shows. White valedictorian makes history

    He also gained worldly experience studying and traveling abroad.

    Life hasn't always been easy for Packwood. He grew up in a poor area of Kansas City, Missouri, where he says he found himself gravitating to the black community at a young age.

    Adolescence was rough. His mother's second marriage to a black man ended in divorce and family tension forced him to seek refuge with his best friend's family - who were black and middle-class.

    The experience of living with his best friend's family had a profound effect on Packwood, who says he saw a "different side of black America."

    During his teens, Packwood says he got into his share of fights and even landed in jail a few times. Still, his grades were good and eventually earned him a full scholarships to Morehouse College and Columbia University.

    Against the advice of some family members, Packwood gave up the scholarship to an Ivy League school. He felt the true college experience was at Morehouse - where he believed he would get more than an education.

    "I gained this interest in African-American studies and I thought that Morehouse would probably be the best experience," says Packwood. "I think of it in terms of 'study abroad.' If I really want to learn it, if I really want to understand it - maybe it's best if I immerse myself in the culture."

    "Mr. Packwood is deserving. He has earned this," says Dr. Robert Franklin, the president of Morehouse. "We are committed to merit, to hard work - no matter who it might be."

    For the most part, Packwood says the experience among his Morehouse brethren has been overwhelmingly good - with the exception of a few negative comments.

    "One guy came up to me and told me -- he didn't like the fact that I was here," recalls Packwood. "He absolutely didn't like the fact that I dated black women."

    "So I heard him out, and said, 'I appreciate your opinion but don't agree with what you have to say,'...and now we've become, not necessarily close, but very cool," Packwood says.

    That student, Vinson Muhammad, says he was curious about the reasons why someone like Packwood would choose to attend an all-black college.

    "I don't necessarily support him being here, but because he's here and we can't discriminate against other races, I support him and his mission to be successful in life," says Muhammad, a junior. "I just kind of wish he had done it at a different institution."


    Even though he received the support of school administrators, Packwood's scholastic success did not come without some controversy. When word got out that he might become the next valedictorian, some of his classmates - even friends - were admittedly chafed.

    "They approached me and said, 'Yeah, I have a problem with you being valedictorian. I know you've earned it and even though I know you on a personal level - I like you a lot - but it disturbs me that out of roughly 3,000 black men - there's not one that's done as well as or better than you academically,' " says Packwood.

    Still, the majority of students told CNN that he earned his accolades and they stand behind him. Some say, if anything, Packwood's academic success should serve as a lesson to his fellow students.

    "I think that it should be a wake-up call to an all black campus," says Muhammad. "At Morehouse we're supposed to be at the top as black men. We only have a few white students and to see a white student will rise to this - is something unsettling to me because it shows that we need to work harder."

    Campus administrators say that black or white, Packwood's experience is consistent with the school's mission: to produce future leaders.

    "I think some of our alumni are a little nervous about a white student graduating from Morehouse with all of its rich history for producing African-American male leaders. But I don't think it's contradictory at all," says Sterling Hudson, the dean of admissions.

    Overall, Packwood says his experience is the best proof of Morehouse success, because the school was able to produce a white valedictorian - against the odds. He's eager to quote the school's most notable alums.

    "What Morehouse stands for at the end of the day, and what Dr. King epitomized, it's not about black or white, it's about the content of [a person's] character," says Packwood. "It's about me, representing Morehouse in that light -- not as a white man or a black man."

    His experience was so positive that Packwood's younger brother, John, will follow in his footsteps when he enrolls as a freshman at the college next year.

    Could this type of recruitment signal a new trend for Morehouse and other historically black colleges and universities?

    "We're not aggressively pursuing white students," says Hudson. "But like every other college, we're interested in diversity. So, if a white student becomes interested in Morehouse - of course we are going to treat him like any other student."

    For now, Packwood is enjoying his rise to the top. This week, he started his first job with the prestigious investment banking firm Goldman Sachs on Wall Street.

    But he'll be back at Morehouse Sunday wearing his cap and gown along with the 500 members of his graduating class. Not as a white man or a black man - but as a Morehouse Man.



    "The interesting thing about Josh's experience is that he had a full Morehouse experience," says Hudson. "When he marches across the stage on May 18 and receives his diploma, he's going to be a Morehouse Man in every way -- except ethnicity."

    "I don't think ethnicity makes the difference; it's what's in his heart."
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I am proud of this young man, maybe america is changing some.

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    Unregistered Bringthetruth's Avatar
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    I guess no one here thinks highly of this young man huh?

    He has the right to speak on racial issues because he gets it, he has experienced it 1st hand.

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    Unregistered Bringthetruth's Avatar
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    I wonder how many historically white colleges have had black valedictorians ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bringthetruth
    I guess no one here thinks highly of this young man huh?

    He has the right to speak on racial issues because he gets it, he has experienced it 1st hand.
    And people who don't 'experience' what you want them to don't have the 'right' to speak on such matters?



    Go home Mugabe! Isn't there some white farmers you should be slaughtering?

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    Member raoul duke's Avatar
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    I see the ignorant cared enough to comment.
    One beautiful thing about having a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations is that every disaster is measured in terms of economic loss. It's sort of like getting your arm sheared off in a car accident and thinking, "Damn, now it'll take longer to fold the laundry" as blood spurts from your arteries. - The Rude Pundit

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    Unregistered Sock Puppet's Avatar
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    The marxist tries to suppress free speech, rather than engage. Coward.

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    Unregistered Bringthetruth's Avatar
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    I really thought many people here would be impressed with this kid.

    nothing positive had been said about his deeds at morehouse college why?

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    Go to hell, BTT.

    Why is it OK for you to consistently tell us how poor the black man is treated and stereotyped, all the while you do the same to gays?

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    Member TOOLBAGS's Avatar
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    BTT, maybe people finally see you for what you are. I never really had a problem w/you until your anti-gay post. Unbelievable. and you have the balls to blame it on your religion. THINK ON YOU OWN. If everybody beliefs where based on those of 100 years ago,1000's in your case where would the black man be? Stop using your religion as a reason to hate. People do not want to give you the satifaction by responding to your pointless post anymore. TOOLBAG
    Mark Twain:
    Surely the ass who invented the first religion ought to be the first ass damned
    Faith is believing in that which I know ain't so.

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    I see people in WNY can't even comprehend a guy who looks like them going to a predominatly black school and succeding to a point he becomes the schools 1st white valedictorian. SAD.

    Don't bring homosexual marriage to this thread it has it's own.

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    It's just that I don't care what color a valedictorian is.
    First Amendment rights are like muscles, if you don't exercise them they will atrophy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bringthetruth
    Don't bring homosexual marriage to this thread it has it's own.
    Don't tell me what to do.

    You're a hypocritical man with too much hate in your soul. As i said earlier, I have zero respect for you.

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    Member TOOLBAGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bringthetruth
    I see people in WNY can't even comprehend a guy who looks like them going to a predominatly black school and succeding to a point he becomes the schools 1st white valedictorian. SAD.

    Don't bring homosexual marriage to this thread it has it's own.
    Just letting you know why people are going to start ignoring you. You asked why you were not getting any responses. Of course you immediatly thought everybody but u a racist. You couldnt be further from the truth. So, where would the black man be if people followed the rules of 100-200 years ago, today? See why it is silly to follow everything in a book written thousands of years ago....Please don't hide from questions you are embarrassed to answer.
    Mark Twain:
    Surely the ass who invented the first religion ought to be the first ass damned
    Faith is believing in that which I know ain't so.

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    Member TOOLBAGS's Avatar
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    BTW, what does his skin color have anything to do with his accomplishments?
    Mark Twain:
    Surely the ass who invented the first religion ought to be the first ass damned
    Faith is believing in that which I know ain't so.

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    Unregistered Sock Puppet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TOOLBAGS
    BTW, what does his skin color have anything to do with his accomplishments?
    He did it with a student body that resented his presence because he was not black. Read the article in full.

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