I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware where I was one of the top junior golfers in the state. I was highly recruited for golf across the east coast but decided to stay local and attend Wilmington University. At the start of my sophomore year at Wilmington University, I decided I wanted to transfer down south to have the experience of going to school away from home. I began to looking up schools on the Internet and came across Morehouse College (Yes, I found Morehouse on the Internet!) and liked the fact it was in Atlanta and had a golf team. I visited the campus and fell in love with the school, so I decided to transfer.
While at Morehouse, I studied political science and helped lead the golf team to its first and only National Championship in 2010. During my senior year in 2011, I discovered that many other big state schools had children’s books. Morehouse, however, didn’t have one; so I decided to write my own.
Attending Morehouse was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Morehouse exposed me to a rich history that I didn’t know growing up–a history that challenged me on every level. One of the most important things I learned while a student at Morehouse was the 5 Wells (Well Read, Well Spoken, Well Traveled, and over all Well Balanced), which I put in “Hello, Maroon Tiger!”
As a Morehouse student, I spent much of my time in the community mentoring youth. Those interactions further inspired me to write the books, Hello, Maroon Tiger and Baby Bison’s First Homecoming. I grew up knowing very little about HBCUs. We have to expose children to these wonderful schools at young age. My books introduce children to their respective college-subjects, and each contains a little history adults can use to help them learn more.
The book series is all about creating literature on an elementary level about HBCUs. I believe that in order to build the next generation of HBCU students, we have to expose these schools to our children at a young age. I do speaking events and it still shocks me how many youth don’t about HBCUs. However, I have to remember that I was once that child.
We began with Morehouse because it is the school I graduated from, and then Howard because of its rich history. Yes, I have plans to expand and I’m proud to say that I’m working on my third one as we speak. I can’t say too much about it but I will say the school is in Atlanta. My Morehouse friend Desmond Delk wrote the book I Love My SSU about Savannah State University while he was teaching there. It is also part of the HBCU Kids Read series. Desmond took both books on a teaching exchange trip to Malawi, Southeast Africa so we are spreading the word about HBCUs worldwide. Hello, Maroon Tiger! was also taken by a friend on a cultural trip to Belize in Central America. Children are my motivation and we won’t stop until we get a book for all HBCUs.
I hope children reading the books will begin to dream about attending these schools at a young age. I believe if the books can plant the seed or spark the conversation about college then I will consider them a success. My saying when I speak to kids is “Dream B.I.G. because dreams do come true” and if someone ask you why, reply with “B.I.G. Because I’m Great”. If we wait until a high school black college tour that may be too late. We must start early and repeat these stories often.
Earl Anthony Cooper is a 2011 alumnus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. After receiving a degree in political science, he completed the Professional Golf Association’s (PGA) Post-Graduate Program, and is pursuing a professional golf career. He has written two children’s books about HBCUs and is planning more in the HBCU Kids Read series. Buy Earl’s books online at www.earldreambig.com. Connect with Earl on Twitter at @EarlDreamBig.