Black Labor: Andrew Morgan
In 1926, a few years after Comer’s death, Alamance County native Andrew Morgan joined Elon as a campus maintenance worker and received a similar level of attention. In yearbooks and reminiscences of the period, Morgan occupies a more prominent place than other Black employees.
It was hard to miss Morgan, “Uncle Andy” to White members of the campus, who was a physically imposing figure. In general, yearbook editors did not publish images of Black people, and certainly not Black staff, but they made multiple exceptions for Morgan. In 1936, for instance, they ran a photo of him mowing the lawn, with the degrading caption, “Elon’s Dusky Midget,” and in 1958 they included another image of him at work and, eschewing a last name or title, labeled it simply, “Andy.”44 White students demonstrated a persistent fascination with Andy’s size and demeanor. In a 1940 article in the Maroon and Gold, for instance, they discussed his weight (248 pounds) and diet, in addition to the way he fraternized with coworkers in the “Powerhouse Gang” and with male students. Family and friends saw Morgan differently, as trustee of Arches Grove Church, for instance, or the self-sacrificial and generous foster parent for a household full of nine nieces and nephews.
Both in the years preceding and especially after his untimely death in 1964, White students, faculty, staff and alumni heaped attention on Morgan. Again, from their perspective the attention was all positive, but some of the pranks directed at Morgan sound difficult to endure.
In 1962, Mrs. W. W. Sellars painted a portrait of Morgan from a photograph, won a prize for her work in the Alamance Arts Festival, and then donated it to hang in Mooney Lounge. The portrait now appears in Belk Library, the oldest likeness of a Black person on campus. In a Maroon and Gold article celebrating the painting, the reporter documented many cohorts of Elon students “joking” with Andy by electrifying doorknobs, dumping water on his head, using him as a tackling dummy and creating Halloween messes for him to clean up.47 Elon-affiliated White people nonetheless grieved when Morgan died in an accident at home, as if they realized after his death the extent of their community’s loss. Then President J. Earl Danieley ’49 delivered the eulogy at Arches Grove, entitled, “Andrew Morgan was a Big Man,” and alumni sent in substantial sums for the Andrew Morgan Scholarship Fund.
Elon Committee on History and Memort report, (pgs 17-19)
Teaching about Anti-Black Racism from Elon's History, Teachable Moments, Andrew Morgan: Paternalism and Presence.
President Emeritus Dr. Earl James Danieley eulogy of Andrew Morgan, 1964.