Acceptance of Paul Brent: 1949

In 1949, pianist and Morgan College student Paul A. Brent applied to the Peabody Conservatory. He did this with the help of his mentor, Dr. Robert L. Jackson, a prominent African-American physician and civic worker in Baltimore. Jackson wrote to his colleague, former Baltimore mayor Howard W. Jackson, who then wrote to Peabody Director Reginald Stewart requesting a phone call to discuss the issue. This began a lengthy discussion among Peabody administrators considering the acceptance of African-American students. Click on the images below to read their letters.

After receiving the former mayor's letter, Reginald Stewart, Director of the Conservatory, forwarded it to Institute President William L. Marbury with this handwritten note attached. In this note, he states, "My own feeling would be to admit him only if, upon examination, he proves to be extremely talented."

After receiving this letter, Marbury wrote to the Board of Trustees asking for prompt responses indicating their opinion on the matter. Their responses were varied in tone, almost all of them having a strong sense of concern about the advisability of accepting an African-American student. In the end, only one member, Douglas Gordon, refused Brent. The entire correspondence between Marbury, Stewart, and the Board of Trustees is included below. Click on the images to read the letters. For hand-written letters, transcripts are included in the descriptions.

Board of Trustees Minutes, 1949 October 18

Trustees Minutes 1949 October 18

Following this extensive dialogue, Paul Brent was accepted to the Conservatory and enrolled in the Fall of 1949. He graduated in 1953 with a Teacher's Certificate in Piano, and his class photo can be viewed below.

At the following Board of Trustees meeting in October of 1949, there was a discussion of Brent's recent admission. The Board was pleased at their success in not causing a scene with the decision, and determined to treat it as a special case rather than an established rule. 

Photograph of the Class of 1953

Class of 1953 (Paul Brent pictured on back row, second from the right)