Hanging on the wall of Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University is a plaque commemorating the life of William Morrison (1867-1918), class of 1887, missionary to the Congo and human rights activist. Yet few at Washington and Lee have even heard of this remarkable man. As part of our class, “Congo, Rwanda, and the Modern World,” we have undertaken research on Morrison and hope to bring the accomplishments of this notable alumnus to the attention of the Washington and Lee community.
Morrison served as a missionary in the Congo while it was the private colony of King Leopold II of Belgium. Together with his partner William Sheppard, one of the first African-American missionaries to central Africa, Morrison brought the many atrocities of Leopold’s regime to light. Follow the links on the left to discover more about the lives of Morrison and Sheppard, to learn about Congo’s history since their time, and to connect with organizations that continue their work for human rights.
Washington and Lee prides itself on producing students of honor, civility, and respect. Morrison, who worked tirelessly to protect the dignity of the Congolese people, embodies these characteristics like few graduates of our school. Though he may be a mere footnote in many books, members of the Washington and Lee community should keep Morrison’s memory alive on our campus. We started the William Morrison Project to honor a life committed to the ideals of our school.
1st Photo from Patrick Hinely
2nd Photo from Vinson, Thomas Chalmers. William McCutchan Morrison: Twenty Years in Central Africa. Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1921.
3rd Photo from http://www.wlu.edu/images/campus_images/wide/strat_plan.jpg