Atlanta University Center: A symbol of educational excellence

AJC Sepia Black History Month

Before he was walking red carpets, delivering memorable movie lines and getting all us Falcons fans to Rise Up, he was Samuel Jackson, Morehouse College graduate, class of 1972.

Jackson’s Atlanta ties began where they do for many notable icons: the Atlanta University Center.

The AUC, as it’s called, is the largest collective of black institutions of higher education. Located in southwest Atlanta, the AUC loosely includes Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Morris Brown College and the Interdenominational Theological Center.

The collection of historically black colleges and universities has long been a symbol of excellence and education, with many of the schools’ beginnings dating back to the Reconstruction era following the Civil War.

The schools officially united as the Atlanta University Center Consortium in 1929 to share some services and programs, but each school maintains its own board of directors and president. Throughout the years, membership in the Consortium has varied — Morris Brown and the ITC — are not currently official members, but are still recognized for their contributions to the AUC’s history and culture.

The AUC’s alumni lists read like a Who’s Who of black America: actresses Keisha Knight Pulliam and Esther Rolle, filmmaker Spike Lee, novelist and poet Alice Walker, business leader Rosalind Brewer, former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, sports stars Donté Curry and World Series MVP Donn Clendenon and religious leaders including recently deceased Eddie Long, former pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

On the horizon are the next generation of leaders.

Celebrate Black History Month

Throughout February, we’ll spotlight a different African-American pioneer in the daily Living section Monday through Thursday and Saturday. Go to for more subscriber exclusives on people, places and organizations that have changed the world, and to see videos on the African-American pioneer featured here each day.