There are so many people who contributed to my HBCUSTORY at Morgan State University. My professional career and cultural belief system were built in large part by the brilliance of professors and working journalists who challenged us not just to master literature, journalism and the English language, but empowered us to use that mastery in benefit to ourselves, our families, and our people.
Professors like Frank Dexter Brown, Dr. Ruthe T. Sheffey, the late Dr. Michael Bayton, Dr. Wendell Jackson, Sam Davis and Dr. Monifah Love Asante showed me a world of possibilities in scholarship and service to black people.
Attending class, I felt like I was the latest in a long line of students and graduates being prepared to do great things not just to benefit me, but to open up new worlds and opportunities for young people who would come behind me.
Today, when I interact with young journalists and writers, many of the lessons I try to impart to them, I learned from my time at Morgan State.
The moment that sticks out most for me was my junior year in Dr. Sheffey’s Introduction to Shakespeare class. We were giving individual presentations, and upon finishing my presentation, which was rushed to completion and not very long, Dr. Sheffey, who sat beside me silent during my talk, took my paper from my hands and threw it in the trash can.
‘Mr. Carter,’ she said, ‘That presentation was not good enough for this class. You can do better than that, and you will do better than that. I do not accept mediocre work, and you shouldn’t aspire to do such.’
I returned to my seat, surrounded by the snickers and laughs of my classmates. I wasn’t embarrassed; I actually smiled and thanked her after class for being nicer than I expected her to be. Dr. Sheffey, who still teaches at Morgan as a Professor Emeritus, has taught generations of Morganites since 1949. She is both the tradition, and the future of what makes Morgan and HBCUs like it, great for the world.
I got a ‘B’ in Dr. Sheffey’s class, and so much more.