Given the tumultuous times in which we currently find ourselves, we, the undersigned alumni and friends of Loyola Blakefield— formerly Loyola High School— believe that now is the time for our beloved school to make an anti-racist statement that matters.
THE BLAKEFIELD NAME
It rankles and offends some of us that the Blake family name adorns the property in Towson where African American students were officially banned from admission for 25 years—1931 to 1956. The Blake family, in exchange for their gift to help Loyola acquire the property on which it now sits, directed that "no colored boys be admitted."
We, African American students and alumni, would be honored if something could be said and done to permanently acknowledge Loyola's commitment to racial equality. We have discussed it over the years.
These days it is not enough for whites to perceive themselves passively as not racist, but for them to work actively as anti-racist (see Ibram Kendi's book, "How to Be an Anti-Racist" to understand the difference).
We believe it is time for a public atonement statement on the campus for there ever being any acceptance of segregation by honoring the Blake family covenant. It is diametrically opposed to an Ignatian sensibility. The Blake's stipulation reflected the practice originated and perfected by Baltimore's wealthy homeowners of including covenants in the deeds of houses and property, prohibiting buyers who were Black or Jewish. The tactic was utilized so well, it has led to Baltimore remaining one of the most segregated cities in the country. This institutionalized racism infected every facet of the region's culture, policies, and systems of law and justice. Its legacy colors our current society, which is as stratified and full of inequities as it has ever been.
WHAT CAN LOYOLA DO?
What can Loyola do to make an anti-racist statement on its campus named for a white supremacist family?
1. Rename the campus. Remove the Blakefield name.
Loyola's middle school will soon have a new, state-of-the-art academic center to house its students and faculty apart from the high school students. It should be simply and aptly named Loyola Middle School. The upper school should return to its original name. Together, the whole, Loyola, should comprise the Middle School and High School.
2. The new middle school building should be named for either the four African American men who first racially integrated the school (Ken Montague '60, Tim Porter '64, Cliff Pugh '66 and Carl Stokes '68. The Montague-Porter-Pugh-Stokes name might be lengthy and awkward but maybe not) or perhaps it could be named the Racial Diversity Building, with their biographies and portraits placed inside the lobby.
Currently, of all the paintings and artwork that grace the campus, there are none depicting a Black person. It is bad enough that there continues to be an appalling lack of Black faculty and academic administrators at Loyola. It is also concerning that the percentage of black students curiously remains about the same every year as though there is a limit to the number of Black Americans who can be part of the student body makeup. But most conspicuously, one would be hard-pressed to find any evidence of the contributions of African Americans to the history and culture of the school. Therefore, paintings of the pioneering Black students, a statue, or some sort of visible tribute should be added to the campus.
Although some details must be decided upon, we agree that now is the time for an anti-racist statement to be made. No lengthy studies, no more ignoring the issue -- no excuses will do. Now is the time for deliberate anti-racist action by our beloved Loyola.