Letter to the Episcopal High School community from Lee S. Ainslie III '82, Chairman of the Board, and Charles M. Stillwell, Head of SchoolJuly 7, 2020
Dear EHS Community:
Over the past two weeks, the two of us and other Episcopal trustees and leaders have met with a number of Black and African American alumni in a series of listening forums announced last month
. These discussions focused on the experience of Black students at EHS, and the conversations were emotionally powerful and at times quite raw. Participants courageously shared stories of how they had encountered prejudice and bias in their fellow students, the faculty and staff, and the culture of the School itself. Their pain was evident, but their resilience, courage, and commitment to the betterment of the School for future students was evident as well.
We are grieved by what we heard in these forums and also by what other alumni have shared with us directly and through @BlackatEHS, an Instagram account through which alumni and students are sharing their experiences at Episcopal. Ultimately, this testimony makes clear that Episcopal — both the institution and its individual faculty and staff members — has fallen short of our ideals and our mission far too often. At times, racism expressed through both words and actions was clear and hurtful to our Black students. We regret deeply and apologize that the Episcopal community did not do more to recognize and stand up to such racism and prejudice.
We have learned a great deal from our alumni, which will help drive new efforts to live up to our ideals — for Black students, for others who have suffered from various forms of prejudice, and for every member of our community. Our school has much work to do, much to learn, and many ways we can grow as an institution and as individuals as we strive to combat racism effectively and to create an antiracist campus culture. Fortunately, it is clear that many in our community of alumni, students, and families are eager to help us with this challenge.
Below is an outline of our first steps. These actions are not the sum of what we expect to do; the shape and details will evolve as we move forward.SUMMER/FALL 2020
Our best chance to succeed at the many elements of this work is to meet the challenge as a community, united in purpose and commitment. We both recognize that we have more to learn and a great deal of important work to do as leaders for the School, and we are counting on the wisdom, talent, and perspective of everyone in the EHS community. We hope you will join us as we move the School forward and fulfill our vision of an Episcopal where racism and prejudice are not tolerated in any form.