Just over a week after their high school alma maters were caught up in an ugly controversy involving racism-tinged Halloween photos, alumni from North Baltimore private schools are planning an anti-racism rally tomorrow morning on Roland Avenue.
The event is expected to take place from 7-8 a.m. Tuesday, according to a joint letter to families from Gilman School headmaster Henry P. A. Smyth and Roland Park Country School head of school Caroline Blatti. The letter sent out Monday morning describes it as a “rally in support of schools standing up against racism.”
A subsequent letter from Smyth says it’s “being organized by a few Baltimore independent school alumni,” rather than the schools themselves. In addition to Gilman and RCPS alumni, graduates from at least one other institution, Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, say they plan to attend.
“We have been in contact with the organizers to find out more about the intent of this rally and we can assure you that it is meant to be positive and constructive,” Smyth and Blatti wrote. “This is a rally for adults and not intended to involve students or children.”
The rally will happen in the median between Gilman and RPCS on Roland Avenue, they said. Both schools said they are planning to add extra security to “monitor the gathering.” Gilman is also encouraging parents to use a separate entrance on Northern Parkway to drop off students due to a predicted increase in traffic volume.
Nick D’Ambrosio, principal at the public Roland Park Elementary/Middle School down the road, sent an email to parents notifying them the event could affect traffic.
“Baltimore City Police and Baltimore Schools Police have been notified and will be present to keep the morning commute safe. Please be mindful and cautious during morning drop off,” he wrote.
Blatti said in a statement that RCPS “condemns expressions of racism in every form.”
“We strive to promote an environment that unequivocally condemns expressions of racism and intolerance, and promotes equity, diversity, and fairness,” she said. “We respect the rights of those attending the rally to express their views and have their voices heard.”
The rally comes a week after a handful of North Baltimore private school students and graduates were captured at separate Halloween parties in photos with literally racy captions. One picture showed two teens, later identified by Gilman School and Roland Park Country School administrators as their respective students, wearing orange jumpsuits and making supposed gang signs, with an overlaid caption that read, “N***s broke out,” referencing Ice T’s 2012 song, “Chrome plated 357.”
Administrators pointed out in joint letters that the caption came from a third student who attends another local private school.
A second image showed a male, later identified as an alumnus of the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland now enrolled at the College of Charleston, in an orange jumpsuit with “Freddie Gray” written across his back. The caption on the photo read, “ur going to jail tonight.” The College of Charleston’s president later revealed in a letter that the picture was taken at a party near the college’s campus.
Millicent Bain, a Roland Park resident whose children have attended both Gilman and Roland Park Country School, said she hopes both schools “will use this opportunity wisely to shine a light on this kind of latent racism.”
“I would rather see the schools find ways to encourage their students to learn and unite and live in relationship, rather than simply punish the offenders quietly and hope it all goes away,” she said.
The planned rally comes days after someone scrawled in Sharpie on Roland Park’s neighborhood sign, “Home of White Silence,” and “White Silence Won’t Save You.” The sign has since been repainted, per ABC2’s Cassie Carlisle.
— Cassie Carlisle (@CassieABC2) November 6, 2017
Susan Dunn contributed reporting. This story has been updated with additional comment from Gilman School headmaster Henry P. A. Smyth and RCPS head of school Caroline Blatti, and to reflect that additional private schools are now participating.
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