Morehouse College has become part of the family tradition for three generations of Morehouse men captured in a photo gone viral.
Norman Thomas Sr., Norman Thomas Jr., and Norman Thomas III all share the same name and come 2026, all are expected to be graduates of Morehouse College in Atlanta.
“They talk about the Morehouse mystique, but what is that? the mystique is the confidence, not an arrogance, it’s a confidence in knowing whatever you feel called or led to do, nobody can tell you you can’t do it,” said Norman Thomas Jr., a 1996 graduate of Morehouse College with a degree in early education.
Norman Thomas Jr. is currently an elementary school principal and pastor of a church in Decatur, Georgia, and he also is a son of a Morehouse man and a father of one. Thomas Jr. says he was always inspired to attend Morehouse growing up, in large part because of his father, who graduated from Morehouse in 1965.
“He would always tell me, that’s a good Morehouse brother right there, even the doctor he would go to, he would always make sure it was somebody from Morehouse,” Norman Thomas Jr. said.
Norman Thomas Sr., 78, graduated with a degree in history. During his time as a student, civil rights activists, including Benjamin Mays, the president of Morehouse College from 1940 to 1967, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be present on campus.
“When he talked about them, the people seemed bigger than life, so he talked about Dr. Mays, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Howard Thurmond, the great theologian who would talk to them on Tuesday in chapel,” Norman Thomas Jr. reflected on words ushered upon him by his father about Morehouse during the 1960s.
While growing up, Thomas Jr. says his father instilled within him the value of having strong Morehouse connections. “He would always tell me, that’s a good Morehouse brother right there, even the doctor he would go to, he would always make sure it was somebody from Morehouse,” Norman Thomas Jr. said.
Although Thomas Sr. now copes with dementia and prostate cancer, it was for that reason Thomas Jr. wanted his son, Norman Thomas III, 17, who’s chosen to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, to continue the legacy and walk the campus together while they all still can.
“I would tell him about Thurmond Hall and dad would tell him about Graves Hall and incidentally, my son will be living in Graves Hall like his granddaddy in the same dorm room,” Thomas Jr. said of conversations with his son about becoming a third-generation Morehouse man.
“I wanted to fill some big footsteps and follow that lead, and I felt like going to Morehouse, that would look good for me and I would also be continuing a legacy,” Thomas III said of his decision to attend Morehouse this fall.
Thomas III plans to study biology and sports medicine for a career working with Major League Baseball upon graduation in 2026. He says a photo shoot taken alongside his dad and granddad in early June not only went viral, but it kickstarted the lifetime of brotherhood he was looking forward to experiencing as a Morehouse man.
“The Morehouse Instagram page reposted and there were many other pages and just through that, I’ve made so many connections with people who attended Morehouse and Morehouse alumnus,” Thomas III said of the viral photo and its impacts.
“I didn’t have it done in order for it to go viral, I just wanted to capture the moment so if anything were to ever happen, we’ll have it documented, you were here while your granddaddy was here, your daddy was here so you can understand the gravity of this moment,” Thomas Jr. said of the viral photo showcasing three generations of Normans on Morehouse campus.
The elder Thomas says he’s looking forward to seeing his son about to embark on his college career as a Morehouse embrace the “Morehouse Mystique” full of confidence needed to accomplish anything he sets his mind to.
Norman Thomas III says he hopes he can continue the family legacy with a fourth generation of Morehouse graduates in the years to come.