Markita S. Morris, class of 1998

Markita S. Morris, class of 1998

Markita Morris grew up in north Philadelphia with her mother, brother, sister, and cousin. Early on she was identified as a mentally gifted student so her mother ensured that she could attend Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary and J.R. Masterman Lab & Demonstration Schools. Morris was housing insecure for most of her early life and in combination with a difficult home life greatly challenged her college application process. She served as the first student member of Philadelphia’s board of education and her fellow board members helped her attend Brown University. She earned her A.B.

In this interview, Markita Morris, Brown University class of 1998, brings a perspective of a north Philadelphian who attended public school, was housing insecure, and who adored her time at Brown. This is also the Pembroke Center Oral History Project’s first interview conducted via FaceTime.

Morris begins her interview by explaining why it was important for her to participate in this project. She specifically notes that she wanted to make sure the experiences of Black women, and especially someone with an inner city background, are documented. She goes on to describe her childhood, her mother’s difficult personal relationships, the family’s struggle to find safe housing, and especially her mother’s struggle to get Morris into Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary and J.R. Masterman Lab & Demonstration Schools. Continuing, Morris says that she was determined to attend Johns Hopkins University and even sent them a letter of acceptance. It was not until “A Day on College Hill” when Morris toured the Brown campus with her grandmother and made strong connections with students that she withdrew her acceptance at Johns Hopkins and decided to attend Brown. 

In speaking of her time at Brown, Morris emphasizes the positive impact of the Third World Transition Program, Fusion dance company, and Elmo Terry-Morgan, Artistic Director of Rites & Reason Theatre, and Associate Professor in the departments of Africana Studies and Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. She also tells the story of how she met Jacques Louis ’95, the man who would become her husband. In terms of low points, Morris briefly notes an incident of racism on campus, but says that she used it as a teaching moment. 

Morris wraps up her interview by talking about life after Brown, the challenges of going back home to Philadelphia, time she spent in South Africa, and how she decided to attend New York University Law School.

Recorded on Oct 25, 2018


Interviewed by Mary Murphy, Nancy L. Buc '65 Pembroke Center Archivist