A BRIEF PROFILE OF
MARCELLUS CHANDLER DeLEON BARKSDALE
(By Himself [LOL])
Hello friends and classmates. In this edition, we have a special treat. Our own Barkie, known to the rest of the free world as Dr. Marcellus Chandler DeLeon Barksdale, has agreed to be the focus of “where are They Now”. Over the years, he has given much to our community and to many individuals, including me. With all his accomplishments and success, he remains Barkie to his friends. As a member of the
Esquires, I thought I knew him well. I learned how little I knew of his accomplishments while reading this profile. In 1965 to prepare to introduce Dr. Benjamin Mays at my graduation ceremony at Butler High, I read his Bio. Dr. Barksdale’s bio is almost as illustrious as Dr. Mays’, who he and I both revere. Read, enjoy and learn.
I was born in Abbeville, South Carolina, several decades ago where I attended several schools: Poplar Grove Elementary School (Grade 1); Harrisburg Street Elementary School (Grades 2-4); Abbeville County Training School [training was a common name given to black schools during the Jim Crow era] (Grades 5-7); and Josephine Spearman Wright High School (Grades 8-9). I moved with my parents, Andrew and Julia Barksdale, to Gainesville, Georgia, in 1958, where I attended Fair Street High School (Grades 10-12). While at Fair Street High School, I was mentored
by Miss Mattie Leo Moon, my first homeroom and social studies teacher, and decided to major in history at Morehouse College. I was also greatly influenced by Mr. Ulysses S. Byas, Fair Street Highs principal; Mr. Charles Morrow, guidance counselor, and teacher; and Mrs. Dorothy Baylor and Mr. Hubert Evans. I was the salutatorian in the Class of 1961 at Fair Street High. I attended Morehouse from 1961-1965 on an academic scholarship. At Morehouse, I was a member of the internationally acclaimed Morehouse Glee Club and the Student.
Government Association. After graduating from Morehouse College in 1965 with a B. A. degree in history, I returned to Gainesville, Georgia, where I was hired by the Gainesville Board of Education and assigned to the E. E. Butler
High School, the new but still-segregated high school for African-Americans. Mr. Byas, who had been the principal at Fair Street High, was now the chief administrative officer at Butler High. It was this employment that launched by nearly five-decade career in education. It was also at E. E. Butler High that I established life-long friendships with my some of my colleagues and students. My extracurricular work at Butler High
was with the chorus and the Esquires Club, a high school fraternity. During my four years at Butler High, I became a member of the Sims Family. And after Julia and Andrew died, Frank and Mary Sims became my new parents. In 1969, when the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) mandated that all southern schools systems that were using the all deliberate speed Supreme Court ruling in Brown II (1955) to delay full implementation of the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Gainesville school system became fully integrated. The 1954 Brown decision said that segregation in public education was unconstitutional. Unfortunately, Butler High School was closed, and I was assigned to teach at the Gainesville Junior High School. The transition from Butler High to the Junior High was controversial but not traumatic. I taught at Gainesville Junior High for three years, earning a Master of Arts degree in history from Atlanta University by attending summer sessions. In August 1972, the year I was awarded the M. A. degree, I was offered a teaching position at Clark College, now Clark-Atlanta University (1988). I taught at Clark for two
years; and in 1974 I was accepted into the doctoral program in history at Duke University. My studies at Duke have supported a full fellowship funded by the Ford Foundation (I had the option of choosing a Rockefeller Fellowship); and because my academic record at Atlanta University was exemplary, some of my credits were transferred to Duke. So I completed all of the requirements for the Ph.D. in history at Duke in three years. With the indefatigable guidance and mentoring by Dr. Lawrence Larry Goodwyn, my principal adviser at Duke, I was awarded the doctoral degree in 1977 and worked at Morehouse College, my alma mater, within a month.
I joined the Department of History at Morehouse College in the Fall Semester 1977 and rose through the ranks from Assistant Professor to tenured Full Professor in the required six-year period. In the 34 years that I have been a faculty member at Morehouse, I have also been a visiting professor at Emory University, Atlanta University, the Morehouse School of Medicine, Tuskegee University (Atlanta program), and SpelmanCollege. I have been the director of the Morehouse Scholars Program; adviser to the Colleges chapter of Phi Alpha Theta; founder and adviser
to the William Tucker Society: the African-American Studies Majors, Minors and
Concentrates Club and the John Henrik Clarke Honor Society; and adviser to the
Student Government Association.I have chaired and/or served on virtually
every standing and ad hoc committee at Morehouse. In 1996 I was appointed the
Director of the African-American Studies Program at Morehouse College–a
the position I still hold. And in 2009, Morehouse President Dr. Robert
Michael Franklin appointed me the Chairman of the Morehouse Sesquicentennial
History Committee. I am presently in the early stage of writing the new
history of Morehouse that will tell the story of the College’s 150 years of
service. I was recently honored by being named the2010-2011 Morehouse
College Vulcan Faculty Member of the Year.