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How Leaving Home at 16 Changed Her Life Forever

Going to an HBCU was never forced on me. It was a decision that came naturally to me but I give the credit to this decision to my parents. Especially, my mother. Momma Murray went to NCCU at the age of 16 and was destined to begin a new Legacy in her family. The values that my parents instilled in me at a young age and what they have exposed me to throughout my life, made my decision to attend Howard very seamless. Thank you Mom, for leading the way and starting the HBCU Legacy in our family. World, meet the greatest woman in my life...Carol Murray aka "Momma Murray". 

Mr. Legacy: You went to an HBCU. Tayler (my sister) went to an HBCU. Now, I am a senior at an HBCU. You were the first in your family to attend an HBCU. How does it feel to know that YOU started the HBCU legacy? 

Momma Murray: I was the first in my family to attend college and at the age of 16 I left home to attend North Carolina Central University.  I don’t think that I chose an HBCU - it chose me. My family emigrated from Barbados in the early 1960s and while being raised by my grandmother, she was not familiar with the educational system in the United States.  However, it was an HBCU college tour that opened my eyes and my heart to the possibilities of what my life could be. 

It means everything to me that both of my children made the decision to attend Howard University.  I can honestly say that it was something that wasn’t “planned.”  However, as parents, we made sure that both you and your sister had the opportunity to visit as many schools as possible, PWIs and HBCUs.  While your father and I left the decision to the both of you we were ecstatic to know that you chose well.  

Mr. Legacy: You always shared the value of HBCUs to Tayler and I at a young age but never pushed us to go to one. We both kind of made the decision to attend one on our own. Did you always see HBCUs as a place your kids were destined to be in? 

From my own HBCU experience, I knew that my foundation had been set, my life-long friends would be just that and my college experiences would be bar none. I always hoped that you both would be able to experience the diaspora of such greatness.  However, as a parent I remained steadfast literally and figuratively in Proverbs 22:6   “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” 

Mr. Legacy: HBCUs have come a long way since when you were in school. What are you looking forward to the most when it comes to the Legacy of black colleges? 

For the better and the worst, the good and the bad, I always say “You gotta love an HBCU.” And while there is no perfect place to attend school, I think I share similar experiences with all of my HBCU alums; the long registration and financial aid lines, the lady in the cafeteria that showed love to every student and knew how to make them feel extra special; those “soul-food” days in the cafeteria; the dorm drama with no heat, no air, long phone lines before there were cell phones and the lists go on and on. What I would say for sure, none of us would trade it for any other experience any other place in the world. 

I am excited to see that the legacy of these schools are growing in leaps and bounds.  I am excited to see that students such as yourself are recognizing that HBCUs are not second choices or alternative choices, they are becoming the One, Only and Best choice for our children. 

I look forward to when the world finally accepts the fact that HBCUs are important and that HBCUs have and always will build this country’s leaders and decision makers. 

Mr. Legacy: We love our HBCU family and from what I have seen for you, the sisterhood of Delta Sigma Theta is a family of its own. How has the organization played an important part of your life?

Becoming a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. has been a dream that was once deferred by never denied.  I am proud to be one of the newer members of the East Point/ College Park Alumnae Chapter. 

I would not have been where I am today, had it not been for a Delta.  My 6th grade teacher, Norma Adams-Clemons, was one of the most influential people in my life.  It was Ms. Adams-Clemons  who stayed in touch with me thru-out my middle and high school years. Growing up in New York in the 1980s, at the onset of the crack era was not the easiest. However, the Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter of DST sponsored a trip for  several students to attend an HBCU tour and Ms. Adams-Clemons made sure I was on that trip. Those five days were life changing for me.  It opened my eyes to life possibilities so much that I came back home, doubled up on my classes, attended summer class and finished high school one year early. 

It was a Delta who saved my life and I pray that I can make such an impact on someone else’s life and pass it forward. 

Mr. Legacy: Growing up around the family business, I have seen you always stress the importance of service and giving to others? Where does this value and meaning stem from and how do you continue to exercise these values in your life? 

As a family and as business owners, community service has always been an integral part of who we are as citizens of the world. We would not be who we are, you would not be where you are without the blessings that have bestowed upon our family.  Your father and I have always been firm believers of paying our gratitude forward in service and giving to others and we have made sure that you and your sister have been raised with those same values and traditions. 


  • Carol girl I would not trade our experiences at NCCU for nothing! We shared the good and the challenges and made it through it all! An HBCU teaches life lessons! Thanks for being there with me and for me! #friendsforLife! #foreverCentral

    Tonya Dennis on
  • It’s wonderful to see that you made a decision to risk at such a tender age, which brought you to where you are today. Additionally, one can see that a sense of Family; purpose and intentionality were the drivers that kept you focus. (A single goal) Rarely do we see that someone is shaped and guided throughout their lifetime to prepare themselves, and finally their offsprings to make clearly marked decisions for achieving an important area of their lives, such as education.
    Thank you for sharing your story and most of all. Thank you for being you in this process.

    Michael F. Pitt on
  • I am so very proud of my sister, my Soror “Mama Murray” and the ring bearer at my wedding, “Mr. Legacy”. Not only have you made an impact on your community, but the culture and essence of being an HBCU student and alum. May God continue to bless your endeavors ❤️
    Representing the Green & Gold…NSU
    Crimson & Cream 4Life🔺

    Germenia on
  • Carol, I love your story! We grew up on the campus of NCCU, and wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. NCCU helped to mold us into the women that we are today. I’m so thankful that my parents attended an HBCU and guided me in that direction. The older that I become the prouder I am of being an Eagle and a part of the HBCU experience!

    Lavita Rocha-Alves on
  • Thank you Carol, for the decision made at the tender age of 16. It certainly led the way for the success enjoyed by both your children and the family business. I look forward to reading more from the CEO “Mr. Legacy” on the continued success of the business and his writing.

    Calvin Clarke on
  • Wonderful article. So thankful to call you Soror!

    Kathi Earles on
  • Congratulations Carol, this is a sincere and great reflection of the Legacy, History, and Pride of an HBCU alumnus. Your children have followed in your footsteps, and our young men and women out there, who are contemplating a choice of a college education have a tried and true compus.

    JOCELYN Murray on
  • Tell your mom uncle Les just has a tear drop from his right eye. Lol. All the best to the MURRAY family. Peace and love from the ASHTON family. Keep me inspired.

    LES on
  • Great article about a Beautiful lady inside and out❤️❤️❤️

    Vanessa Hooks on

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