The Story Behind Humans of Millsaps

by Leah Whitcomb
Social Media Manager

American photographer Brandon Stanton started the blog Humans of New York with a dream of creating a catalogue displaying the unique inhabitants of New York. He ended up with a popular blog and more than 8 million followers on social media. My dream for Millsaps is very similar.

     As a prospective student, I heard two very different things about the people at Millsaps: 1) They were mostly rich white kids. 2) They were really weird.

     I wasn’t afraid of the weird kids as so much as the rich white ones. The thought of leaving a homogenous town of privileged Baptist upper-class whites for a school full of (what I heard were) privileged Methodist upper-class whites was terrifying. Was I going to continue to be the “only black kid” in the class or at the school? Was I always going to be “the voice for black people” or “the credit to my race”? What ultimately changed my mind about Millsaps was a brochure with Alex Lawson, front and centered. If a black man was the center of attention on a Millsaps brochure, maybe the school wasn’t so white-washed after all.

 Upon arriving here, I was amazed at the diversity. True, roughly 80 percent of Millsaps students are white, but everyone’s story here is so different and complex. Millsaps is full of people from very different backgrounds. Some are privileged and upper-class as I was told, but others arrived piss-poor. This school is enriched with a color of beliefs from not only different sects of Christianity, but different types of religions as well. People here represent countries and cultures I have never experienced.

     I wanted everyone to see this. I wanted people to know that Millsaps is not just a school for rich white people. It’s for poor white people too and rich blacks and poor blacks. It’s also a school for Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. This school is not for any one color or religion; it’s for all of them. So, when Editor-in-Chief Zach Smith asked me what he wanted to see in terms of The Purple & White’s social media this year, I told him I wanted to show the people of it. I wanted to display the beauty and diversity that I saw in the Millsaps community—which is how Humans of Millsaps came to life.

My goal with Humans of Millsaps is to appeal to the prospective that I once was. I want prospectives to obtain an honest account of who the people they will surround themselves  with for the next four years really are, before they commit themselves to this school. I want to educate the uninformed, those who believe Millsaps College is only for a certain group of people; it’s not. I want to introduce Millsaps students to the other humans who attend their college. I want to share the story of Millsaps College, unfiltered and unbiased.

Knowing this would be a daunting task, I appointed the best to bring my idea to fruition: Kelsey Stone. Kelsey is an avid lover of Humans of New York, but also a lot of other “Humans” pages, so I knew she would be the best person to bring my dream to life. Luckily, Kelsey was very enthusiastic to work with Humans of Millsaps. “It reminds us we all wear masks, and we need more empathy to carefully see past that, and remind us that we’re never alone,” she says. Her goal with Humans of Millsaps is to “showcase the diversity, intellect and ultimately the things that make us uniquely human”. She believes that even though Millsaps is a small liberal arts college, there is something more profound behind every person here. What Kelsey hopes to do differently with this page is to “touch on everyone at Millsaps. Not [just the] students, but the people who work here. [They] are also part of our community.”

     So with Kelsey this year, we are going to try to share the story of Millsaps College. We want everyone to know about the guy who sits alone at lunch, how cool he is, and how everyone should eat with him. We want to give a voice to the girl who sits at the back of her classes and barely talks. We want to hear from everyone—especially those who feel ignored. Although they may not be as vocal or as active, they are Millsapians too, and they matter.

Follow us!

Facebook:  Humans of Millsaps

Instagram: @humansofmillsaps