Black alumni call for changes at Loyola Blakefield in wake of graffiti incidents

Black alumni of Loyola Blakefield are calling for an increase in African-American faculty and administrators and other changes following racist incidents at the school.

The Catholic boys school in Towson for grades 6-12 closed for a day last week after graffiti containing the N-word was found in a bathroom stall. It was the second instance there in two weeks involving graffiti with a racial slur.

In a memo to school president Anthony Day and other officials, a group of black alumni called on Loyola Blakefield to increase the portion of black faculty and administrators to 25 percent of the school total by the year 2022. Among other proposals, they also want curriculum to better reflect black history, and for the school to include black faculty and administrators in financial aid and admissions committees.

“Please note that many, if not all, of these proposals have been made before to previous administrations of Loyola Blakefield, to no avail, which is why we revisit these issues again at this time,” the memo states.

The memo was delivered to school leaders last week, said Ralph Moore, a 1970 alumnus and former teacher there.

“The school has to be learning about people who don’t look like them,” Moore said. “It’s not just reading, writing and arithmetic.”

Meetings for students and families to discuss the recent incidents drew crowds to the school last Friday and this Tuesday.

Carl Stokes, a former Baltimore City councilman and 1968 graduate of the school, was among the hundreds who attended.

“You’ve got to give [school officials] some credit that they have called it out and that they’ve said we have this problem,” Stokes said. Still, he said, the administration needs to be “more proactive” in addressing issues of diversity.

Less than 10 percent of the school’s 986 students are black, according to figures school officials provided to The Baltimore Sun. The school did not provide data on how many faculty members are black.

Wesley Chandler Wood, who graduated from the school in 1988, said that “having more black faculty on staff is good for black and white students, to see black people in positions of authority and expertise.”

Wood said he was encouraged by the recent meetings.

“The true measure of how things are proceeding will be coming the next few months,” he said. “My overall feeling and mood right now is positive. The community seems like it really wants to change Loyola for the better … and that means dealing with the recent incidents in a forceful way.”

In a Baltimore County police report filed last week after the graffiti was discovered, an officer wrote that administrators told police there had been “ongoing bias-related incidents at the school since the start of the fall semester.”

School officials have declined to publicly elaborate on those incidents.

In a statement to The Sun on Wednesday, Day and board chairman Bill McCarthy didn’t respond to specifics of the alumni proposals but said they “look forward to discussions with all members of our community as we move forward with this critical work.”

County police are investigating the graffiti and have said there is security footage from the school that could shed light on the incidents. But a police spokeswoman said police are “waiting for Loyola to go through the video” because the footage had no timestamp.

“They’ve got quite a few hours on the video,” police spokeswoman Louise Rogers-Feher said. “Once they have what is needed, they will come back to us and we’ll take it from there.”

alisonk@baltsun.com

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