Love Blossoms at SpelHouse
Image via Joseph Walker
By Truth Jackson, Staff Writer
In March, the Maroon Tiger uncovered the impactful advocacy and community efforts of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the Atlanta University Center. The MSA has created a welcoming environment for numerous Muslim students and even a place where love blossoms.
Tradition holds that when a man of Morehouse marries a Spelmanite, they form a ‘Spelhouse’ family. Joseph Walker and Rosie Stewart-Walker embody that love story. On May 6, they celebrated their first year of marriage, coinciding with their respective commencements.
On May 21, Stewart-Walker graduated from Spelman College with a double major in sociology and anthropology while also serving as the president of the MSA. Walker graduated from Morehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in biology and was the MSA vice president.
Originally from Valdosta, Georgia, Walker was raised in a devout Christian household, with Baptist preachers as his parents. He describes himself as a country boy who enjoys nature.
He embraced Islam at the age of 13. Walker was influenced by reading “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”, a transformation experienced by many Black Muslims.
Stewart-Walker hails from Providence, Rhode Island, and moved to Franklin, Massachusetts at a young age. She has ancestral ties to the earliest tribes in Liberia and finds solace in reading and cherishing time with her family.
Transitioning into Muslim identity, Stewart-Walker acknowledges her initial years at Spelman were challenging. After returning from the COVID-19 pandemic, she embraced wearing the full niqab, a traditional Islamic garment that covers the body and face except for the eyes and hands.
Like many from Generation Z, the couple met through social media shortly after returning to campus. Walker stumbled upon Stewart-Walker’s profile on Instagram, where he noticed her wearing the full niqab—an uncommon sight for women at Spelman.
Walker was intrigued. He followed on Instagram her, and their connection ignited.
“I’ve never seen a Muslim woman at Spelman before,” Walker said.
“Of course, I click follow,” he said.
Recalling their initial interaction, Walker fondly remembers Stewart-Walker’s enthusiasm for Islamic quotes and the Quran from her social media posts. As she scrolled through his profile, unsure if he was Muslim, she found him attractive and couldn’t help but be intrigued about his relationship to Islam.
Their connection deepened through text messages, and Stewart-Walker wasted no time getting to the point. She straightforwardly asked Walker about his intentions, seeking clarity and understanding.
Walker, taken aback by her directness, responded with curiosity, not immediately grasping her intentions. However, Stewart-Walker revealed her interest in getting married, prompting Walker’s admiration for her determination.
“That was the first time I’d been approached by a woman who knew what she wanted; that intrigued me,” Walker said.
They spent hours conversing at Robert W. Woodruff Library, eventually falling in love and deciding to tie the knot.
“You could say it was love at first sight,” Walker chuckled, reminiscing about their initial meeting.
Stewart-Walker wholeheartedly agreed, emphasizing the indescribable connection they felt from the start.
“When we first met, it was really love,” Stewart-Walker said, “I couldn’t describe it any other way.”
Their courtship followed traditional Islamic guidelines, like Stewart-Walker emphasizing that Walker wasn’t simply her boyfriend. Following the strict guidelines of Islam regarding relationships between the opposite sex, she made it clear that they were committed to adhering to those principles. They both acknowledged the seriousness of their union to protect its sanctity.
Over the next four months, they delved into deep conversations, exploring their individualities and meeting each other’s parents.
While speaking about Walker’s mother, Stewart-Walker praised her. She shared beautiful words his mother often utters.
“If I were to hand-pick anyone in the world for my son, I would have chosen you,” Walker’s mother said.
Those words resonate deeply with Stewart-Walker.
Their wedding ceremony took place at Masjid al-Muminoon in Atlanta, surrounded by loved ones. Though not extravagant or costly, it evoked the couple’s and attendees’ emotional responses.
The couple at their wedding, Image via Joseph Walker
“People cried, I cried and he cried,” Stewart-Walker said. “It was beautiful.”
“It’s a great marriage,” Stewart-Walker said.
“There are stressful times and there are difficult times. However, I’m willing to go through whatever for him, and I believe he feels the same for me,” she said.
They both helped revive the MSA by forming an E-Board that planned various events during Ramadan. Walker leads the Jumu’ah prayer weekly.
“The students call us mom and dad; it’s a family. Our growth is something they were a part of,” Stewart-Walker said.
“Joseph and Rosie were the anchors of the MSA,” said rising sophomore at Morehouse College and MSA member, Christian German.
Their experience leading the MSA helped them understand how they work together.
“We were able to test our marriage and realize our potential,” Stewart-Walker said.
Walker supported his wife in planning and coordinating events for the MSA.
“He’s my right-hand man,” Stewart-Walker said. “Basically, he’s my Co-president.”
Mansa Bilal Mark King, Ph.D, Associate professor of Sociology at Morehouse College has served as the main faculty advisor for the MSA since 2007, advising several MSA administrations.
“I was most impressed by the Walkers’ cohesiveness and sense of vision,” King said.
Despite Walker’s previous efforts, he believes his biggest priority is to continue being a role model for future classes. He wears traditional Muslim garments to make himself visible to other Muslim students on campus.
“I’m a humble person,” Walker said, “I don’t think I’ve done that big of a job; I was just being a role model for future classes.”
German enjoyed the mentorship he received from the Walkers.
“They both gave me better insight into life, on a personal level and an Islamic level. They are mentors and family to me,” he said.
When discussing the blessings of marriage, King explained that Joseph and Rosie served as a practical example to young Muslims.
“I could only relate wisdom, rulings, and advice about marriage after age 30. The Walkers were a constant walking example of a peer marriage for my students,” he said.
Walker will finish attending Morehouse School of Medicine in the fall, pursuing his last year in the M.S. program in neuroscience. He plans to obtain a Ph.D. in pathology or immunology.
Over the summer, Stewart-Walker will complete an internship with the National Parks Service. She also plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic studies.
The couple hopes to start a family soon.
“I want to find ways to balance career, money, and family,” Stewart-Walker said. “I want to bring life into the world.”
Walker agreed, adding, “Family comes first.”
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