Without Regard to Sex, Race, or Color

The Past, Present, and Future of One Historically Black College

A large bell hangs in the clock tower overlooking the now quiet campus of Morris Brown College. Its inscription reads, in part, “Dedicated to the Education of Youth, Without Regard to Sex, Race or Color.”  Founded by African-Americans in 1881, Morris Brown lost its accreditation to financial pressures and scandal in 2002, and declared bankruptcy in 2012. Today its Atlanta campus is largely abandoned.  

School Bell
Fountain Hall

Photographer Andrew Feiler is a native of Savannah, Ga. “I’m Jewish and a fifth-generation Georgian,” he says. “My voice as a photographer is influenced by Southern culture and by growing up in a minority in the South. When I heard about Morris Brown closing, I had to look at this story. It’s a story that’s about race, education, religion, social justice. It felt like a story I wanted to explore.”

Feiler was granted access to Morris Brown’s hauntingly silent campus, and the project began.

“We are all familiar with educational spaces. We have an inherent emotional connection to these spaces — classrooms, chalkboards, teachers’ offices,” Feiler says. To see them, as we do here, absent of students, is shocking in and of itself. But these photographs speak to a larger issue: the declining value our society places on education, particularly public education.

“The broadest theme of this work is that education has been the backbone of the American dream since before there was a United States of America. The first publicly funded school in America was established in 1644,” Feiler says, referring to the first tax-supported school established in Dedham, Mass., which became known as “the seed of American education.”

But now, Feiler says, “Too many Americans cannot afford to go to college. There are crushing levels of student debt. Education has always been the anchor of the American dream, and there is a 350-year arc to this story, and that is threatened today.”

We find hope in the fact that folks are working to bring Morris Brown College back into operation, but Feiler’s larger theme challenges the entire nation.

A book of this work has just been published by the University of Georgia Press in association with the Georgia Humanities Council.


Dormitory Doorway
Sara Allen Quadrangle

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Lone Chair
Gaines Hall


Fountain Hall


Fountain Hall


Food Court
Middleton Towers


Student Mailboxes
Middleton Towers

Fountain Hall

AndrewFeiler (43) Trophies - John H. Lewis Complex.JPG

John H. Lewis Complex


Alonzo F. Herndon Stadium

Stolen Seats
Alonzo F. Herndon Stadium

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Marching Band Instruments & Sousaphone Case
John H. Lewis Complex


President's Home


Andrew Feiler is a fifth-generation Georgian. Having grown up Jewish in Savannah, he and his art have been shaped by the rich complexities of the American South and of being a minority in the South: history and culture, geography and race, tradition and conflict, injustice and progress. Andrew's photographs have won numerous awards. His work has been featured in museums, galleries, and magazines and is in a number of private collections. He earned his master's in American history from Oxford University and his master's in business administration from Stanford University. More of his photography can be seen at andrewfeiler.com.