Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of America’s top Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). And, in the U.S., it is the only historically Black liberal arts private college for men. In January 2022, Morehouse College announced the launch of its Black Men’s Research Institute (BMRI), which is a “pioneering initiative to study the economic, social, cultural, and personal outcomes of issues affecting Black men, particularly where disparities exist in the U.S. and internationally.”
BMRI will explore areas related to “LGBTQ history, culture, and social challenges, as well as sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny,” according to the website. However, the main focus of this research institute will be centered on Black men specifically, which sets it apart from the Black studies departments now in existence at other colleges and universities across the U.S.
“It is important to Black men, for Black men and for Black boys who need help, who need to be lifted up, who need to have some entity, some place that is focused not just on studying them, but on really helping to understand themselves and the experiences they have,” explained Clarissa Myrick-Harris, the Chair of Morehouse College’s Division of Humanities.
Supporting the Advancement and Research for Black Men
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith is dedicated to empowering Black men and raising awareness of their contemporary and historic marginalization, such as in education, employment, income and health care. In 2019, Smith paid off the student loan debt of Morehouse College’s entire graduating class of nearly 400 students. The gift of almost $40 million was made to advance economic opportunities for the graduates and their families, because African American students carry a disproportionate amount of student loan debt, which plays a significant role in widening the racial wealth gap.
Additionally, Smith hopes to contribute to increasing the life expectancy for Black men, who are more likely to experience premature death than any other demographic group, according to the Brookings Institute. Due to societal factors and lack of access to quality care, Black men are more likely to die of diseases like prostate cancer. In 2020, Smith announced a partnership with Prostate Cancer Foundation in a “new effort to reduce deaths from prostate cancer, one of the largest health disparities facing African American men today.”
“As African American men are at an increased risk for being diagnosed or dying from prostate cancer, understanding their risk profile and applying this knowledge earlier with strategic detection, care, and decisions about cancer risk management is of utmost importance to address health inequity in the U.S.,” said Smith when he announced the partnership with Prostate Cancer Foundation. “This is why I made a personal commitment to help accelerate research, encourage African American men to participate in the study and subsequent testing, and develop new detection strategies that have the power to transform how we diagnose and treat this disease and help save lives.”
In 2021, the Prostate Cancer Foundation was able to develop a new test that could identify a person’s likelihood of developing prostate cancer.
Read more about how Smith and the Prostate Cancer Foundation are addressing racial disparity in prostate cancer diagnoses and treatment.