Grammy-winning rapper Killer Mike went to Morehouse College on a dare. In 1994 the Frederick Douglass High School senior already had an art scholarship to Morris Brown, but his homeroom teacher offered to buy his books if the smart, rebellious teen could get accepted into the teacher's alma mater. Killer Mike calls his year at Morehouse "the most valuable experience" of his life.
You get to college and think you're an adult. I remember telling the Dean I didn't feel like we should have to wear coats to chapel. Like, first of all, why the fuck are we even going to chapel? Everybody ain't Christian! He said, "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attended Morehouse. Dr. Benjamin E. Mays was a leader of this great institution." Then he said something to me I'll never forget: "Those two men were close to chapel. Who are you not to be?" That's when I realized that the individualism I praised was cool, but I was lucky enough to become part of a select group of men [who] attended Morehouse, and that I was as responsible for holding those traditions tried and true as any other Morehouse man. It really gave me proper perspective on honoring legacy.
I was a college dropout, so it's funny to me that I get asked to go back and speak. People are like, why should a guy who didn't even graduate get to speak? The answer is simple: because he had the balls to go out and be a trailblazer. I got a girl pregnant my first year. I had to get out and make it happen. The first time I got asked to come back to Morehouse I was so nervous I went to talk to Dean Sterling [Hudson III], who helped me get a scholarship. He told me to calm down and that I deserved to be there. ... I like meeting the young guys, talking to them and encouraging them. Being asked to come back to Morehouse is special to me because at that school you're not official till you walk across that stage and graduate. The fact that I made them proud by not graduating and doing this has always meant a lot to me, because I know did the unpopular thing.
— As told to Gavin Godfrey
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Millie De Chirico graduated from Georgia State University in 2002 with a BA in Film and Video. De Chirico now works as Manager of Programming at Turner Classic Movies. She's part of a team that's responsible for curating Underground TCM — the cult classics and atomic scare short films you're most likely to stumble upon when you get home from the bar. If you're flipping through the channels between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. on a Saturday and come across Blue Velvet, Dolemite, or an Ed Wood or Dario Argento film, chances are good that she booked it. She's also in charge of the silent and import films TCM airs Sundays after 2 a.m. De Chirico took a few minutes out of her day of scheduling films for night owls to reflect on her days of scavenging for groceries at Kroger, and making her way as a GSU undergrad.
I was at Georgia State University from about 1997 until 2002. Strangely enough, I'm back there for a graduate program now. I went to high school in Marietta, and I was really into ska music in those days. I would listen to WRAS' ska show, "One Step Beyond," and I wanted to take the host's job so bad! Eventually I did get to do it.
High school in Marietta was pretty miserable. I had a small group of friends, and we always talked about how one day we would escape Marietta. But where would we go that's not where everybody else was going? Georgia State was that place for people who didn't want the traditional college experience: They wanted to go to a city college with art programs, and where they didn't have to be involved with college sports. Much of GSU's greatness was because of places like Album 88 and Cinefest. That's why I went there.
Both the Album 88 experience and being in the film department put me around a really cool crew of interesting people — some of them now have careers in film and television, editing Spike Jonze's films, or [working] for "The Walking Dead."
During my freshman year I lived in the dorms right after they were built at 10th Street and the freeway. It was a year after the Olympics, and I have a lot of great memories of making student films, climbing through people's windows in the middle of the night.
My roommates at the GSU dorms and I would go on what we used to call "date shopping" for groceries. Back in the day, Kroger used to have a policy that if you found something expired on their shelves and pulled it for them, you could get the same non-expired item for free. They have since stopped doing this because eventually lots of people figured it out.
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