Fifty Years Later: 2018
In April of 2015, nearly fifty years after the unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in April of 1968, Baltimore reeled in the wake of Freddie Gray's murder by Baltimore Police. The protests following Freddie Gray's death, known as the Baltimore Uprising, solicited a similar response from the Peabody community as the unrest in 1968. While some students participated in protests and conversations were hosted on campus to discuss what was happening, most of the Peabody community was simply annoyed at the disruption to their regular routine.
This is just one of many parallels between recent years at Peabody and stories alumni shared from the 1950s and 1960s. Despite increased numbers of minority students and faculty at Peabody, African-American students still experience racism every day. Stories of African-American students being ignored, kept from opportunities, carded when walking on campus, kicked out of practice rooms, and treated as inferiors by other students, faculty, and administrators are prevalent.
In conversations during the Fall 2018 semester, current students shared their own stories of racism at Peabody, and many of their experiences are nearly identical to those alumni shared from their time at Peabody sixty and seventy years ago. Students also worked to have this article published by the Johns Hopkins News-Letter in April 2019, which addresses racial discrimination at Peabody. The article cites discrimination by staff members and speaks to many of the issues African-American Peabody students face on campus. Because the stories and reflections concerning Peabody's current culture are not accompanied by documents or photos, you can learn more beginning on page 55 of the paper found at the beginning of this exhibit.
The time period covered in "A Message of Inclusion, A History of Exclusion" is only a small percentage of Peabody’s life and an even smaller percentage of the years black artists have been dealing with racial injustice. There are many more stories that have been erased, forgotten, or have not yet been told, and this project is far from being a complete history. This is only a starting point for learning about the work that needs to be done at Peabody, and with this knowledge comes a responsibility to invest in changing the culture that has resulted from Peabody’s history of exclusion.