Seemingly to “nip it in the bud” given the political situation in Virginia, both the president of George Washington University and the school’s yearbook staff denounced several photos featuring “blackface” and KKK outfits included in school yearbooks … from the 1960s.
The images were included in the 1964, 1965, and 1968 editions of the GWU Cherry Tree yearbook. According to The Hatchet, the blackface picture was from a “May Day Minstrel” talent show, while the KKK photos were from a fraternity event and an “annual theater show” respectively.
GWU President Thomas LeBlanc issued a statement saying “It’s important for us to acknowledge our history even when we don’t like what we see. Racism has no place at GW.”
University President Thomas LeBlanc on Friday denounced a series of old photos in GW yearbooks appearing to show students in blackface and KKK hoods https://t.co/waBymqRHSq
— The GW Hatchet (@gwhatchet) February 8, 2019
“We will work every single day to create a welcoming and inclusive community for all, and we will continue to learn from our past and try to be more inclusive now and in the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Cherry Tree staff issued its own statement about the 50-plus year-old photos saying they “run directly counter to our values.”
As an organization, we denounce these images and do not tolerate any form of racism within the culture of both our organization and in our published materials.
It is extremely upsetting to see that our publication once printed such disturbing images […] As an organization we are committed to publishing a yearbook that captures the diverse nature of our student body and is welcoming to all students. We hold our staff to incredibly high journalistic standards to reflect our values of respect, communication, community and diversity.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring are both dealing with the fallout of their own blackface controversies, while Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is embroiled in a sexual assault scandal.
IMAGES: YouTube, the Cherry Tree