Blackface photos found in old University of Maryland yearbooks

A number of photos featuring people wearing blackface have surfaced in old University of Maryland, College Park yearbooks.

A Twitter user discovered the images in University of Maryland yearbook archives days after a photo of two unidentified people — one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan robe — was unearthed on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook page, sending the state into political turmoil. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has also admitted he once wore blackface.


University of Maryland President Wallace Loh responded to the tweet, calling the images “profoundly hurtful and distressing.”

“Traditions like this reflect a history of racial prejudice and do not convey what we seek to embody today,” he replied on Twitter.


The university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion echoed Loh’s sentiment and also provided information about the history of blackface on its Twitter feed.

“The images of Blackface discovered in past UMD yearbooks can be shocking for some and traumatizing for others,” the office tweeted.

Photos of students in blackface and other racist images are sprinkled throughout Maryland yearbooks from the 1960s, 1970s and decades earlier, according to a Baltimore Sun review of archives.

A fraternity page from the 1970 Terrapin Yearbook shows members imitating a lynching. Another fraternity’s page includes references to their annual minstrel show, along with photos of men in blackface.

The first black undergraduate student was admitted to the state flagship in 1951.

Andre Perry, a fellow at The Brookings Institution, studied the Terrapin yearbook while in College Park as a graduate student. He wrote about his findings in a 2015 column for The Hechinger Report, noting that a campus tradition “surrounding white [fraternity and sorority members]in blackface was prevalent throughout most of the University of Maryland’s history.”

“Racist traditions are simply part of higher education’s segregated past,” he wrote. “For most of the twentieth century, Asians, Blacks, Latinos/as, and Native Americans were excluded from the academic offerings and leadership positions in most colleges and universities.

“So we shouldn’t be surprised when the vestiges of segregation emerge.”