Throughout the years, members of the Episcopal community have researched and shared accounts of the School’s founding and history. Many of these efforts have been comprehensive and collaborative, and they have even involved our students delving into Episcopal’s archives as part of their work in U.S. History courses and other social studies electives.
Particular focus was placed on this research in the years leading up to our commemoration of 50 years of integration, with the establishment of an Office of Community and Equity in 2017, and with the work of the Board Task Force on Racism, Understanding, and Belonging commencing in 2020. Through this work, Episcopal achieved increased clarity about the role enslaved people played in the School’s pre-Civil War history between 1839-1861.
In the fall of 2021, Head of School Charley Stillwell and Chair of the Board of Trustees Lee Ainslie ’82 P’14 ’17 established the School History Working Group to explore what had been learned and to advise the Board on a thoughtful path forward in acknowledging our history, continuing the research, and discussing implications of our past in relation to the School today and in the future.
In April 2022, the School History Working Group shared its findings with the full Board of Trustees, which, at its final meeting in June 2022, unanimously approved a resolution to “...acknowledge the weight of what we have learned and to commit Episcopal to pursuing actions that are substantive and meaningful.”
The June 2022 Board resolution called upon the School to:
• Pursue meaningful steps to honor our duties as a community, always aspiring to integrity, respect, and care for one another;
• Honor and commemorate the enslaved men, women, and children, who helped build and sustain Episcopal High School in the 1839-1861 period in a meaningful, respectful, and lasting way; and
• Review academic courses, historical exhibits, and online histories of the School to ensure that they are thorough and appropriately comprehensive.