Deyane Moses, a senior photography student at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, conducted research that uncovered examples of racism in the college’s history and developed an exhibit to showcase that history.
Moses’ installation is called “Blackives: A Celebration of Black History at MICA.” The exhibit features curated photos and documents that show how the college reacted after being forced to admit African-American student Harry T. Pratt in 1891. After Pratt was admitted, more than 100 White students left the school, resulting in the college establishing a policy to only admit “reputable White people.” That policy stood until the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954. The exhibit also features an image printed by the college in 1903 that displays a hateful, degrading cartoon lampooning African-Americans associated with the school as janitors and little children.
In response to the history uncovered by Moses’ project, MICA President Samuel Hoi released a statement to the college community. In the statement, President Hoi apologized on behalf of the institution for its racist past and stated that the college must continue to strive towards achieving a more inclusive campus environment.
“I was deeply stirred when I visited the Blackives exhibition and the MIBA website,” said President Hoi. “While specifically celebrating the Black students at MICA – past, present and future – they should resonate with all students who overcome obstacles with strength and determination to receive the best education they deserve. They remind me of MICA’s mandate to empower all of our talented students to thrive, to achieve and to impact positive change. Deyane and her project represent student agency at its best and underscore the power of art in pursuit of social justice.”
President Hoi concluded the statement with, “We look forward to partnering with Deyane, other students, faculty, staff, and alumni in understanding MICA, where we came from, who we are today, and who we want to become.”