Joshua Packwood: Morehouse Valedictory Man

He’s White:

Joshua Packwood knows what it’s like to be a minority.

This weekend he’ll be the first white valedictorian to graduate from the historically black, all male Morehouse College in the school’s 141-year history.

Morehouse, in Atlanta, Georgia, is one the nation’s most prestigious universities of its kind. For more than a century, the school has prided itself on personifying the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the school’s most notable alums, by producing “Morehouse Men” – intelligent and successful black leaders.

“Because I’m one of the only white students, it’s easy to call me ‘the white boy,’ I’m naturally going to stand out,” says Packwood.
But Packwood, 22, doesn’t stand out solely because he is white or has maintained a 4.0 grade point average. For those who don’t know him, what is surprising is that a Rhodes Scholar finalist turned down a full scholarship to Columbia University to attend the all-black men’s university.


Tell Me More, News & Notes, AP, Chicago Tribune, BET, & AJC.

  • superdestroyer

    If you search through the Department of Educations database on educational research, you find many studies who black students at majority white schools. However, you will not find studies on what white students at majority black schools. I have always suspected the the government does not really want to know the results of such studies: that Black students can maintain their culture in a majority white setting but that white students have to adopt black culture to survive in a majority black school setting.

    Even though Morehouse is notable, it is just not that selective. According to, 75% of the students at Morehouse have less than 1170 on the SAT test (old standard). This is in comparison to 1300 at the University of Missouri, Columbia (Joshua’s home state) or 1540 for Columbia.

  • Slamfu

    You’re right, the kid’s probably an idiot cultural sellout so he can score some cool points with elitist circles and maybe get laid with a few women of color.

  • runasim

    I saw an interview with him and was so impressed, I’m making him the poster boy for the hopes in my soul. He exhibited the kind of steadiness in the face of potential storms that is exactly what is needed.

    I hope the politically and ideologically driven refrain from trying co-opt him to serve their own obsessions.

  • superdestroyer

    Slamfu, there are a few inconsistencies in the story.

    Do universities really have valdictorians. I have attended three and have never heard of it. How to they balance between different majors.

    Joshua is supposedly poor but in college was a clothes horse and studied abroad. The universities seemed to unaware that he was white but that is usually about the first thing that they ask students these days. If you are a white female wanting to major in English universities will ignore you. However, a student who checks the African-American box and wants to major in economics will be recruited by every school in the country. He obviously had higher than a 1500 SAT and should have been at the top of his class.

    Grandview High School where he went was 35% white according to and 60% black. Not exactly the hood.

    I also loved the quote So, if a white student becomes interested in Morehouse – of course we are going to treat him like any other student.”,. Of course this is the opposite of places like the Universities of Michigan, Texas, and California who have a tradition of have separate and unequal standards for black students.

    My guess is that he is like the whites to go to Howard University Law School why be a small fish at a big school when they can be at the top of their class and get hired to fill a quota.

  • Slamfu

    Valedictorian is also the title given to the final speaker at graduation ceremonies, which is usually bestowed on a student who may or may not be the top of their class. Your other “inconsistencies” seem to have more to do with his clothing and the fact he was able to travel abroad? Lots of lower income students manage to pull that off from a variety of ways. If you’re willing to rack up some debt or save some money you can do it, credit comes easy these day if you’re in college. If your full ride include room and board you can save up enough money to travel with a part time job. Lots of kids do it.

  • superdestroyer


    I wonder how many students at Georgia State University have travelled abroad multiple times like Joshua has? My guess is that you could not find a single one.

  • DLS

    I’ve been tooling around town in northern Detroit metro today and (admittedly getting less air time than Ted Kennedy’s stroke) this valedictorian made the top-of-the-hour news on a local AM radio station. Someone who knew him was quoted; it may have been the university president — what the man said obviously goes beyond window-dressing PC: That student’s experience really has improved his ability to deal with Other People (capitalization mine for emphasis).

  • DLS

    “the kid’s probably an idiot cultural sellout … maybe get laid with a few women of color.”

    (“I’m in the band!”)

  • sh0ter

    Well SD, as a Georgia State student I can tell you that your statement is absolutely false. We have are fair share of rich white and black kids. Also if you weren’t aware Morehouse is synonymous with rich kids. 10,000 a semester ain’t cheap.

  • Diablevert

    550 GSU students participated in study abroad programs in 2007, according to the GSU study aborad office. ( Since there is a pool of at least 550 who have trravelled abroad at least once, it seems higly probable that there are several, if not dozens of GSU students who have travlled abroad more than once.