John Hope Hope Family was an important African American educator and race leader of the early twentieth century. In 1906 he became the first black president of Morehouse College—the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr.—in Atlanta. Twenty-three years later, in 1929, Hope went on to become the first African American president of Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University). Under his leadership, Atlanta University became the first college in the nation to focus exclusively on graduate education for African American students. As a race leader, Hope was steadfast in his support of public education, adequate housing, health care, job opportunities, and recreational facilities for blacks in Atlanta and across the nation. He also supported full civil rights in the South during an era when African Americans were expected to accommodate a system of inequality.
To accomplish his goals, Hope embraced several civil rights organizations, including W. E. B. Du Bois’s Niagara Movement, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the southern-based Commission on Interracial Cooperation. He was also very active in such social service organizations as the National Urban League, the “Colored Men’s Department” of the YMCA, and the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools. Hope was very well known among both blacks and whites in the early twentieth century. Buck Franklin, the father of the distinguished historian John Hope Franklin, was so impressed with Hope’s social and educational leadership that he named his son after Hope.