Without Regard to Sex, Race, or Color
The Past, Present, and Future of One Historically Black College

Photographs by Andrew Feiler
With Essays by Robert E. James, Pellom McDaniels III, Amalia K. Amaki, and Loretta Parham

A photographic meditation on an embattled historically black college

Reviews

“Andrew Feiler’s photographs of the stilled campus of Morris Brown College conjure a haunting story that invites important dialogue on race, progress, and opportunity in America.”
—Brett Abbott, Keough Family Curator of Photography and head of collections, High Museum of Art

“Andrew Feiler’s photographs put into perspective Morris Brown College’s great legacy and history; they give a glimpse of what once was and, more importantly, offer a vision of what can be. The photographs convey a sense of rough edges, of incompleteness, reminding me of an unpolished stone. They inspire me to want to make a difference, and I hope they will motivate others to be a part of our transformation.”
—Stanley Pritchett, eighteenth president of Morris Brown College


"The photos are jarring, a depiction of decay that clearly hints at once-proud spaces, filled with the buzz of learning and growing. . . . Most of all, you can feel the people missing from the photos—the ghosts of a student body that once laughed and learned and chased dreams down the now-empty halls."
—Mary Carr Mayle, Savannah Morning News

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Description

This gathering of sixty images, along with the essays that frame them, gives us a new way to think about the too often troubled status of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The bell in the clock tower at Atlanta’s Morris Brown College bears an inscription about the ideal of educational access, that it be “without regard to sex, race, or color.” Yet most of the Morris Brown campus has lain silent for more than a decade. Established in 1881, it was all but shut down in 2002 after years of fiscal hardship were capped by a mismanagement scandal. Pride still runs high among its alumni, however, and its current leadership vows to revive the school. Meanwhile, as Andrew Feiler’s stirring photos show, Morris Brown is literally falling apart.

In the spirit of those photographers who have documented the physical decline of our valued institutions—from small family farms to entire cities—Feiler points his lens at one embattled place and dares us to look away. Aiming to “open minds, trigger emotion, stimulate discussion, and, perhaps, prompt action,” his images project a new layer of meaning onto the Morris Brown story. We see classrooms, dorms, gym facilities, and other spaces no longer alive with students, faculty, and staff but rather mired in a state of uncertainty where hopes of normality’s return mutely battle a host of unwelcome alternate futures. We see how time passes without regard for academic years, regular maintenance cycles, or the other comings and goings that would ordinarily call attention to the leaks, invading animals, acts of vandalism, and other forces working to peel the paint from Morris Brown’s walls, buckle its floors, and molder its furnishings. We see garbage piling up alongside sports trophies, scientific equipment, and other vestiges of the prouder past we would rather remember.

Feiler’s photos are accompanied by writings that address the college’s profound impact on one family, history and memory, the documentary and narrative powers of photography, and the place of HBCUs in American public life. Images and text combine powerfully to show us what happens when a place meant to be honored is left to its own.

A Sarah Mills Hodge Fund Publication
Published in association with the Georgia Humanities Council


Page count: 112
60 Color and 10 b&w photos
Trim size: 10 x 10

Read more about Morris Brown College at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

 



Hardcover
List price: $32.95
978-0-8203-4867-4
10/1/2015

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Andrew Feiler, a fifth-generation Georgian, is an award-winning photographer whose work has been featured in museums, galleries, and magazines and is in a number of private collections. His photography is focused on the contemporary complexities of the American South. More of his photography can be seen at andrewfeiler.com.

Robert E. James is a Morris Brown College alumnus, a former member of the Morris Brown board of trustees, and president of Carver State Bank in Savannah, Georgia.

Pellom McDaniels III is faculty curator of African American Collections at Emory University’s Woodruff Library and an assistant professor of African American studies. He is the author of The Prince of Jockeys: The Life of Isaac Burns Murphy.

Amalia K. Amaki is an artist, writer, curator, and critic who has served as professor of art history and visual studies at Spelman College, University of North Georgia, University of Delaware, and University of Alabama. She is the author of (with Andrea Barnwell Brownlee) Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, and the Academy.

Loretta Parham is CEO of Atlanta University Center’s Woodruff Library.