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Friday, September 7, 2012

Atlanta: City of contrasts - Morris Brown College, Georgia Dome, and ATL Financial Center

College motto: "To GOD and Truth"
When I wrote a story about the demise of church-affiliated Morris Brown College last week, an HBCU which declared bankruptcy last month, one priest friend remarked, "Of course, none of these things (are) as simple as it may look at first glance." (

That's when I decided to drive down to Atlanta myself and take a closer look at Morris Brown to gain perspective on what is important in Atlanta from a structural viewpoint.

Property on Morris Brown campus
Buildings in the college complex are dilapidated and boarded up, with roofs and gutters in disrepair for what appears like years.  Right off Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and Vine, the complex is across the street from an elementary school and daycare, the sight of which must be disconcerting to youngsters.  Herndon Stadium, named after Atlanta's first black millionaire, Alonzo Franklin Herndon, sits empty, and tall weeds are growing around the sign as you enter Morris Brown properties.
Boarded up buildings on campus.
Looking at Morris Brown College makes you think you're tripping into the Twilight Zone!

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Associated Press, Morris Brown lost its accreditation and federal funding in 2002 due to a financial mismanagement scandal involving the school's president and  financial aid director. Both were convicted for fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in federal student aid. Financial support was also terminated by the United Negro College Fund. 

But what is just around the corner, only three blocks away, is reality - the Georgia Dome in all her splendor.

  The George Dome is the second largest domed structure in the world. Photo by Dreman1731
Well, if Morris Brown goes under, what a great location for a hotel, restaurant, and gift shop(s) complex filled with Falcons memorabilia. That is probably more valuable than a rundown, historical, privately owned black institution in the eyes of developers.

But again, Atlanta is a city of amazing contrasts.

AFC received Silver certification under the LEED® rating system.
A few miles down the way rises the Atlanta Financial Center (AFC) off Peachtree Rd in the heart of Buckhead.

It's full of world class amenities and the latest technologies.

Skyscraper view outside AFC window
There is no comparison to Morris Brown College and the AFC in architectural design or security. I wonder was anyone in the AFC approached to save Morris Brown, and if so, what did they think of the business decision they made?

Staircase inside AFC in Atlanta
What a site(sight). Where would you rather be? What will it look like in 100 years?

Black youth lounges in AFC's opulence, waiting in the secure dining room for his parents to get off work .
Priorities are placed where we want them. Loss becomes somebody else's gain.
©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Mary wrote: Excellent article. aamu is probably headed down that same path, either paired down considerably or extinguished.


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