I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware where I was one of the top junior golfers in the state. I was highly recruited for golf across the east coast but decided to stay local and attend Wilmington University. At the start of my sophomore year at Wilmington University, I decided I wanted to transfer down south to have the experience of going to school away from home. I began to looking up schools on the Internet and came across Morehouse College (Yes, I found Morehouse on the Internet!) and liked the fact it was in Atlanta and had a golf team. I visited the campus and fell in love with the school, so I decided to transfer.
While at Morehouse, I studied political science and helped lead the golf team to its first and only National Championship in 2010. During my senior year in 2011, I discovered that many other big state schools had children’s books. Morehouse, however, didn’t have one; so I decided to write my own.
Attending Morehouse was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Morehouse exposed me to a rich history that I didn’t know growing up–a history that challenged me on every level. One of the most important things I learned while a student at Morehouse was the 5 Wells (Well Read, Well Spoken, Well Traveled, and over all Well Balanced), which I put in “Hello, Maroon Tiger!”
As a Morehouse student, I spent much of my time in the community mentoring youth. Those interactions further inspired me to write the books, Hello, Maroon Tiger and Baby Bison’s First Homecoming. I grew up knowing very little about HBCUs. We have to expose children to these wonderful schools at young age. My books introduce children to their respective college-subjects, and each contains a little history adults can use to help them learn more.
The book series is all about creating literature on an elementary level about HBCUs. I believe that in order to build the next generation of HBCU students, we have to expose these schools to our children at a young age. I do speaking events and it still shocks me how many youth don’t about HBCUs. However, I have to remember that I was once that child.
We began with Morehouse because it is the school I graduated from, and then Howard because of its rich history. Yes, I have plans to expand and I’m proud to say that I’m working on my third one as we speak. I can’t say too much about it but I will say the school is in Atlanta. My Morehouse friend Desmond Delk wrote the book I Love My SSU about Savannah State University while he was teaching there. It is also part of the HBCU Kids Read series. Desmond took both books on a teaching exchange trip to Malawi, Southeast Africa so we are spreading the word about HBCUs worldwide. Hello, Maroon Tiger! was also taken by a friend on a cultural trip to Belize in Central America. Children are my motivation and we won’t stop until we get a book for all HBCUs.
I hope children reading the books will begin to dream about attending these schools at a young age. I believe if the books can plant the seed or spark the conversation about college then I will consider them a success. My saying when I speak to kids is “Dream B.I.G. because dreams do come true” and if someone ask you why, reply with “B.I.G. Because I’m Great”. If we wait until a high school black college tour that may be too late. We must start early and repeat these stories often.
Earl Anthony Cooper is a 2011 alumnus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. After receiving a degree in political science, he completed the Professional Golf Association’s (PGA) Post-Graduate Program, and is pursuing a professional golf career. He has written two children’s books about HBCUs and is planning more in the HBCU Kids Read series. Buy Earl’s books online at http://www.earldreambig.com. Connect with Earl on Twitter at @EarlDreamBig.