A Wall of Accomplishments for Morehouse Alum
By Titus Falodun Staff Writer | 9/13/2013, 6 a.m.
“I think one person that comes to mind is Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Atlanta civil rights pioneer and retired educator Lonnie C. King, Jr. on which social activist Jonathan Wall reflects in character. “I saw him [Martin] take an unusual path for the time, much like Jonathan.”
Brave and bold words, indeed. But there is merit to be found in Wall’s deeds.
Shortly after his freshman year in 2009, Raleigh native Wall wrote a spontaneously inspired Facebook post, after he judged a math competition and was troubled to find that out of 40 winners only three were black.
Wall, with fiery rhetoric, expressed his disappointment and frustration with the educational gap between blacks and whites in Georgia.
His Facebook entry found its way into the daily newspaper, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, which captured the interest of King and fellow civil rights activist Charles Black.
King and Black were part of the Atlanta student movement in the 1960s, working in conjunction with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
It was those two gray-haired but lionhearted activists that offered Wall a position on the board of Peachtree Hope, when it was just in its brainstorming phase.
“That was one of the best years of my life-- just being a board member,” Wall said. “Getting to know a lot of kids, getting to know a lot of their families, and really becoming an advocate for them.”
Wall’s four years at Morehouse College proved to be transformative.
In 2012, Wall graduated from Morehouse with honors, having help develop the largest start-up charter school in Georgia. He also briefly sat on the executive board of Atlanta’s NAACP chapter.
After Morehouse, he earned a graduate degree in Education Policy and Management at Harvard University.
Currently, he is enrolled at Harvard Law School.
“Jonathan is one of the most outstanding young men that I’ve ever met in my life,” King said. “He’s a highly driven, intelligent, and competent young man. He’s an extremely good role model. And I predict in the next 10, 15, 20 years, he will be one of the most outstanding lawyers in America.”
There is a presence and wisdom that flows effortlessly from Wall. He looks like a typical college student, but his manner is that of a revered sage.
Even with all the accolades, Wall remains meek. His upbringing may have something to do with that.
“Every Monday night, my family and I would go and hold bible study at a homeless shelter in Raleigh,” Wall explained. “And from that experience, we got to know a lot of homeless families and we even had a few stay at our house at separate times.”
Furthermore, Wednesday nights, Wall and his father, Larry, would go play basketball with some of the men at the shelter, which also helped in breaking down socio-economic barriers.
Those moments educated Wall on life beyond the classroom.
“You come to see them as people who went through rough situations that could have happened to us,” Wall said. “My parents were really good at articulating that this could be us without two or three paychecks. So, always respect them, always do what you can to help them, and always come back and do some good.”
Wall, who was recognized in 2011 as an Allstate Give Back Day Hero for his work with low-income schools and African American communities in the Atlanta area, has partnered with Allstate again as an ambassador for the Give It Up For Good campaign.
The campaign highlights community members that embody the freely giving spirit of a person like Jonathan Wall.
“Jonathan just seemed to be a thinker at a young age,” said Wall’s mother, Tonya Matthews-Wall. “He always thought about situations and how to make them better. He is just a gift.”
For more on Allstate’s Give It Up for Good campaign, visit http://giveitupforgood.allstateonline.com.