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Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC

Hal LamarBy Hal Lamar

Ex-Morris Brown, NFL football star rallies for alma mater

ATLANTA- The NFL”s celebration of its 50th Super Bowl football game this year benefitted a lot of its former players and especially those from the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs who played in Super Bowl 1 in 1967.

One of those players who suited up for what was originally called the AFL-NFL football championship was ex Morris Brown College star Solomon Brannon.solomon brannonBrannon

It was therefore no real surprise that the keynoter for this year’s 135th anniversary celebration was Brannon and he didn’t fail the 200 or so who turned out for the occasion on March 18th at historic Allen Temple AME church in northwest Atlanta.

Brannon, a Savannah Georgia native and graduate of historic Tompkins High School, faced some good natured ribbing from former teammates and classmates, including Morris Brown’s current president (and a former Atlanta player-coach himself) Stanley Pritchett(who’s namesake son, is a former professional football player and a current high school coach).

“I’ve known Sol for a lot of years as a player and coach. I told him to speak but please don’t cuss,” he said to laughter. I, too have known Sol for many years and I know his dedication to sports and his zeal for winning can sometimes be expressed in four letter words but his address was as clean as the board of health as he carried the audience back to his days before Morris Brown, his amazing exploits on the gridiron and his over 100 scholarship offers received after high school.

“Why did I choose Morris Brown?” he said. “Well, I figured if I went to one of those so called major colleges, I’d be lost and never heard from again. But my head coach at Tompkins and Morris Brown’s coach at the time (Edward J) Ox Clemons encouraged me to stay in Georgia, I can tell you now, I have never regretted coming here. Thus school grew me up, taught me to be a man.”

“People who know me ask if Morris Brown is dead, ”Brannon preached. “I tell them this school is a long way from dying. For a long time, I stood on the sidelines and criticized. Then I said to myself that I had no right to be critical if I‘m not involved. I rolled my sleeves up and got busy. Now, people will tell you that I don’t always agree with some decisions made and I will say so. But I believe we as alums have a spiritual obligation to help this school.”

Brannon warned that what worked when he went to Morris Brown in the early 1960s won’t work today. “We have to be ready for change,” he said, turning his attention to some of the school’s current student body and officers. “I would love nothing better than to write a check today for $1.000.000 and hand it to the President. I can’t but if everybody who went to this school gave something, we would make it easy.”ezra johnson green bayEzra Johnson

Did ole Sol’s words penetrate? That is debatable. This is not. After the address and a few words from Pritchett about the college’s immediate needs, former grads, athletes and total strangers lined up and began writing checks. The school is tight lipped about how much was raised but you could surmise from the amount of checks announced, the grand total must have been sizable. Morris Brown’s athletic support organization ,the TAY club turned in some paper worth $5000!

XTRA WOLVERINE HOWLS: President Pritchett did say that this year alone, the school raised $500,000 from 650 of the more than 16,000 former Morris Brown students they mailed requests to. He said that kind of fundraising is crucial to the institution’s attempt to regain accreditation. To that end, they are working with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

MBC spokesperson Audraine Jackson told INSIDE that when the school reaches the candidates’ status phase of the process, they are then in position to draw down federal funds. Pritchett says that is important, and especially since he announced at the birthday celebration March 18 that they’ve received more than 3000 requests for admission to Morris Brown. “The trouble is that when they seek funding help, they can’t find Morris Brown’s name on the list of colleges who qualify for atkinsonGeorge Atkinson

That will take care of all that,” he says. …When it comes to football, ole MBC bows to very few colleges at any level in the number of drafted NFL players. The list is a real prize winner and includes names like Charles Bivins (1960),Tommy Hart (1968), George Atkinson( (1968), Ron Walker(1969), Bill Coster-(1970), Robert Evans (1975), Ezra Johnson (1977), and Ricky Eberhardt (1982). A source reaching INSIDE says ESPN plans to produce a special program on Wolverine athletics once the school regains its accreditation.

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