People of Color and Schools

Harvard President Drew Faust unveils a portrait of The Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church, 1974 – 2011. The portrait hangs in the Faculty Room of University Hall. The Honorable Deval Patrick and The Reverend Dr. Wendel “Tad” Meyer make remarks. Deval Patrick (from left), Drew Faust, Michael Smith, Tad Meyer, and artist Yuqi Wang unveil the painting. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Harvard President Drew Faust unveils a portrait of The Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church, 1974 – 2011. The portrait hangs in the Faculty Room of University Hall. The Honorable Deval Patrick and The Reverend Dr. Wendel “Tad” Meyer make remarks. Deval Patrick (from left), Drew Faust, Michael Smith, Tad Meyer, and artist Yuqi Wang unveil the painting. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

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Being in New England, I am connected to some of the most prominent schools in the nation. As I visit peer schools — I often look at the pictures on their walls as I tour different campuses. I also notice the pictures hanging on the walls here at Brooks. Yes — most are white men. I get lucky at times and find a female. That makes me happy. But never a person of color. Recently the late great Peter Gomes’s picture was displayed in Harvard’s faculty room. What does it say to the world when there are no images of people that are not white hanging from walls? What about the fact that places have not figured out how to make people of color feel welcomed? We are not aliens. New England prep schools and Harvard will argue and make excuses. Most places will. But the truth is in the numbers. Are we not part of the club? Prep schools are easy places to feel displaced. Independent schools are this way in general. And the conservative schools will make you feel like an outsider if you are not of the population norm. Harvard has made that all too clear by just now hanging a picture of a person of color. I love the late Peter Gomes. Good for Harvard. Boy it took you long enough. What does your campus look like? Why? Why are there no people of color? Why do they leave? Do you care to know.

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