Amir Staten desperately wanted to become a Morehouse man. And then on Friday, the Morehouse email landed. It led to a joyous viral video.
Amir Staten desperately wanted to become a Morehouse man.
Joining the student body at Morehouse College, the storied historically Black university that counts the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. among its alumni, has been a goal since Amir’s visit to the Atlanta campus felt like being welcomed home.
But the 17-year-old Germantown Friends School student was worried, even though his mother didn’t understand why. Staten had the credentials. He is a star scholar-athlete and has been on honor roll for all of his school career. He is captain of the basketball team, a student ambassador, scholarship award winner, student mentor, and on and on. But still, Amir Staten was nervous.
“I thought, am I getting a deferral letter, or maybe a ‘Nah’ [No] letter?” Staten said of his jittery anticipation.
And then on Friday, the Morehouse email landed. Sitting in the car with his mother Karlynne Staten, Amir clicked on it – and read the word ‘Congratulations….’” And with that, Staten couldn’t contain his joy.
He ran up and down his Germantown block in the rain, saying “I got in! Let’s go! Mom, I got in!” Karlynne Staten was so moved that she grabbed a phone and started filming her son’s unforgettable moment. And since then, millions have shared in Amir Staten’s joy.
The video went viral, shared by family, friends and strangers, popping up on Morehouse College’s Instagram account, and on popular sites such as The Shaderoom.
“It kinda felt like gravity didn’t exist anymore,” Staten said of the moment. “When I saw the congratulations. I threw my phone on the seat and jumped out of the car.”
After a few runs up and down the block, a tearful Amir and his mother embrace and the video abruptly ends.
“I just let the camera go, because I had to hold my baby,” Karlynne Staten said.
That embrace was the culmination of years of hard work for Amir and his family. Karlynne Staten is a single mom of two and works as an emotional support case manager at Martin Luther King High School.
Amir, who attended the Houston School in Mt. Airy and Lingelbach School in Germantown before starting the 8th grade at Germantown Friends, had long said he wanted to attend a historically Black college. As an African American scholarship student at a prestigious private school, Amir sometimes felt as if he was on display, Karlynne Staten said. She maintains that her family “loves Germantown Friends,” but her son wanted a different kind of experience in college.
Amir has taken his first step – earning acceptance to his dream school.
“He is going to Morehouse. Hands down,” Karlynne Staten said. Amir wants to study sociology, and perhaps become a social worker to help troubled young people and their families.
“My life goal is I want to be a positive impact on anybody I encounter in life,” Amir said. The video of his Morehouse reaction has certainly done that. He says has been encouraged by the “love” and the positive comments he has read in reaction to the video.
Christopher Booth of Mt. Airy, former president of the Philadelphia Morehouse Alumni Association, says Amir is in for a memorable four years.
“I am very excited for him,” said Booth, who is also the tennis coach at Germantown Friends. “It’s not just about the academics at Morehouse, [which is an all male school]. It’s the whole experience. It’s like a fraternity and when you walk out you really feel empowered.”
Soon, Amir will be preparing to go to Morehouse, which will present a financial challenge – annual fees for a student living on campus can reach $50,000. (Karlynne Staten started a gofundme effort that by Tuesday at presstime had raised $25,000.)
But Amir is determined.
“Morehouse is a place where you can go to find a whole bunch of Black men with the same goal. It’s a school with a lot of positive male influence,” Amir said. “And it’s cool to be smart. And, what do they say? We’re young, gifted and Black.”