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Gilman History 

Playing the Game: being a full Gilman man

July 22, 2018

            Gilman, an all-boys, private school founded in 1897, rests on the edge of Baltimore City in Roland Park. While members of the Gilman community speak about the importance of the school’s place within the city limits, it is that connection to the neighborhood of Roland Park that perhaps best situates the school’s complicated positioning with regards to race. In his book Not in my neighborhood: How bigotry shaped a great American City, Antero Pietila wrote that, “Roland Park developers made it plain from the outset [in 1912] that financial ability was merely one test that a prospective home buyer had to pass; ethnicity, class, and religion were others” (Pietila, 2010, p. 35). Until 1966, the neighborhood was explicitly designed so that “any negro or person of negro extraction” could not buy or rent a home in Roland Park (Aggarwal, 2016). Though lawyers at Schumucker & Whitelock advised developer Edward H. Bouton that legally keeping black people out of Roland Park might be against the 14th Amendment, in his eyes “race was a problem that needed to be contained” (Pietila, 2010, p. 35). Bouton proceeded to build a place where the wealthiest could escape to a homogenous, country retreat, putting the prohibitory clause under “Nuisances” (Evitts Dickinson, 2014). Jews too were kept out of Roland Park, with suspected Jewish buyers denied by the Roland Park Company, which had the right to approve every sale. The redlining, complete with walls around the neighborhood for a time, built a culture of wealth and elitism within sight of predominantly African-American areas of Baltimore replete with poverty.

            The formation of Roland Park is only part of the history of discriminatory residential zoning suppressing non-whites in the area. A 1910 Baltimore law also made it illegal for any person of color to live on a block whose residents were more than 50 percent white. Matt Hill, an attorney and active leader of the Human Right to Housing Project at the Public Justice Center, suggested that these housing practices continue to impact Baltimore through the wealth disparities that have widened due to these practices: “white Americans were able to pay down their mortgages, to build equity, to pay down principal and get price appreciation” (Aggarwal, 2016). Not only did these housing policies help establish a precedent of racial contention for the entire city that continues to divide Baltimore even today, they also further divided the city along both racial and class lines, exacerbating the differences.

            While the preponderance of archival material connecting Gilman’s decision-makers to the practices and prejudices of the community the school inhabits remains sealed per order of the board, the context of the school’s geographic location demands notice. For to understand the lives of non-white students at Gilman across its history, one must consider the forces acting against their position. As Roland Park remains predominantly white, with a median household income above $100,000 according to Niche, the Gilman boys of color, most assumed to be underprivileged by residents, stand out. They are more subject to scrutiny and examination of their place. Due to the fact that so few non-white students come from the immediate community, perceptions have been that they are instead brought to the school - for public image, for diversity, for athletics, but rarely now for being a full Gilman man cut from the Athenian model of well-rounded men. As a result, these students are facing tremendous pressure to be exceptional in all areas to prove they belong. Using the available archival materials at Gilman, namely press clippings and oral histories, as well as interviews Sarah Lloyd and I conducted with four key figures in Gilman’s current racial initiatives, I will trace the lives of African-American students through the testimony of key figures. Through their stories, I will argue that as Gilman accepts more students of color from underprivileged backgrounds, perception of what it means to be a Gilman man has not developed alongside it. As an act of survival, students of color have been taught to “play the game,” taught to fit in and how to succeed, but they have not been able simply to create their own version of a Gilman man. Though individuals at the school have been taking huge strides to open the space for all across the school’s history, the community at large, built on the foundation of segregation, must adapt to include diverse, varying measures of success in the definition of a Gilman man for all to be welcome.


            When Gilman began to integrate in the early 1960’s, support came primarily from a small number of individuals at the school who possessed great power. Headmasters Henry Callard in the early part of the decade and Remond C.S. Finney in the latter portion forever changed Gilman with their vision of a more diverse school community. In the Gilman Alumni Bulletin in the Fall of 1960, Callard wrote to the community that a committee looking into student activities recognized “the fact that the homogeneity of our student body limits significantly the association of the boys to a very narrow social-economic group” (Callard, 1960). The “narrowness of outlook” that could come from that limitation he continued was a difficult need to meet, “but this fact does not lesson our concern for meeting it” (Callard). Though unsaid, meeting that need would involve the slow process of integrating the school. After a contentious board meeting shrouded in secrecy years later, in which those opposing integration unsuccessfully attempted a coup, the school moved forward with integration in the fall of 1965 with four African-American boys to graduate in 1968.

            This eventual recruiting effort was part of a moral imperative Wanda Speede-Franklin (1988) noted was common in independent schools. She wrote, “the assurance of quality education for minorities was widely perceived as a key opportunity to address the broader social problem of inequality,” documenting the role of noblesse oblige (p. 23). This altruistic vision for helping boys of lesser means reach untapped potential demanded a certain type of kid, one whose potential for failure was largely nonexistent and whose capacity for excellence was already on display. “They had been sent to identify the culturally disadvantaged academic superstar,” Speed-Franklin noted (p. 24). Often missing indicators of middle-classdom, focusing instead of race and perceived poverty, schools like Gilman sought to bring in boys who fit their existing Athenian model, believing those superpowered boys were most likely to succeed. Only the complete success of those boys across the various academic and non-academic curricula could validate the integration efforts.

            Willard Wiggins, one of those original four boys, tells the story that Gilman came to inner city Baltimore to recruit him. With scholarships to offer to promising boys, Gilman eventually selected him after an interview with Nick Schloeder, a US Government Teacher and football coach. Wiggins had the highest average of any male at his junior high. Coming to Gilman, Wiggins remembered, “I was being treated with kid gloves,” continuing, “it sure seemed like a lot of people were walking on eggshells around me” (Wiggins, 2016). Though the transition took time, Wiggins eventually became comfortable. “It wasn’t something that happened all of a sudden, but it was right around the fourth maybe the beginning of fifth form that I was feeling comfortable enough to feel like this was going to work out” (Wiggins).

            Though Callard presided over the school when integration commenced, Finney is credited by most as the person who truly accepted persons of color into the community. Taking over as headmaster in 1968 when Wiggins was a senior, Finney brought the school forward into the modern world over his nearly five decade-tenure at Gilman, the final 24 years as headmaster. In an expose on his career at Gilman in the Baltimore Sun upon his impending retirement, Ron Shapiro, a then-member of Gilman’s board of trustees, said, “people may not have believed in [integration], but they believed in [Finney]” (Klingaman, 1992). David Drake, the then-public relations director, added, “his legacy is making [Gilman] human” (Klingeman). Recognizing the need to connect Gilman with the wider Baltimore community beyond Roland Park, Finney founded Operation Challenge, a program later known as Upward Board, which brought African-American students to Gilman for six weeks of summer classes and an additional year of academic support. This program helped bring the Gilman name to communities and families who previously would not have known the institution and began to chip away at some of the prejudicial links between Gilman and Roland Park for those that did. The goal ultimately was to get these kids to college. Though the participants were not technically Gilman students, the program opened avenues for boys from non-white neighborhoods to come to Gilman full-time as the school slowly earned the trust of families suspicious of sending their children to Roland Park every day.

            In the early days of integration at Gilman, Finney had to balance advancing the school’s diversity initiatives with maintaining support from suspicious community members. In an example of his measured tone, he wrote here to the Gilman community explaining the need not only to admit students of color, but to offer them financial aid:

It is both impossible and impractical for Gilman to admit too great a diversity of ability groups, but we are capable of educating a variety and diversity of youngsters from varied socio-economic backgrounds with a wide range of interests and special talents. Herein will lie a great deal of our strength as a leading educational institution in a democratic society. It must be emphasized that the benefits of diversity within the student body accrue not only to the recipients of financial aid, but perhaps even more to the more affluent students who acquire a wider and deeper understanding of others (Finney, 1969).

Many continue to speak of Finney’s ability to assuage dissatisfied alumni and parents with his rhetoric, building support instead for his controversial initiatives. Here, he explained how the diversity would benefit the affluent boys already at the school, never directly naming the real reasons rooted in full integration. However, on the ground at the school, he supported students of color with more than just rhetoric. Willing to fire teachers and coaches who used hateful speech and similarly willing to condemn students, he created a safe culture on campus.

            Recognizing that African-American parents needed to feel as comfortable on the campus as their boys, Finney moved quickly upon his appointment to the headmastership in 1968, hiring William Greene as the first faculty member of color, and later the first administrator of color at Gilman. Speede-Franklin notes that this act, hiring minority teachers and administrators, was what “Black parents felt the strongest about improving the receptivity and attractiveness of independent schools” (1988, p. 28). Greene certainly would have as profound an impact on Gilman as any. Brought initially to Gilman to direct Operation Challenge, Greene is among the most influential people of color in the school’s history. Looking back on his tenure, Greene remarked, “I think one of the best moves I made in my professional life was coming to Gilman under Redmond Finney,” continuing, “He didn’t try to micromanage me. He trusted me enough to say, ‘Do what you think is in the best interest of the school’” (Greene, 2011).

            As a person of color in power, Greene was somebody many people of color felt comfortable going to with problems. He was willing to step in and demand change, such as when he noticed in 1970 that the white and black maintenance workers had separate dining rooms. Upon seeing this, he recalls walking straight into Finney’s office without knocking and demanding immediate action. Of these interactions, he recalled,

When you’re in that role, sometimes you have to tell faculty, administration, ‘No. On this you’re wrong.’ You’ve got to have the backbone to say it and then you have to have the backbone to tell minority parents, ‘No, you’re wrong. No, don’t blame the school' (Greene, 2011).

With the trust of Finney, Greene worked to change the culture crucially knowing he had the backing of his boss. Though forces outside Gilman have not always backed diversity initiatives, support inside the walls has allowed people like Greene to give students of color what they needed to get through Gilman.

            Johnnie Foreman, longtime director of Gilman’s diversity initiatives, and now officially Director of Community, Inclusion, and Equity, has since taken the reigns from Greene as an administrator of color helping to make African-American students feel more welcome at the school through leadership and mentorship. For 34 years in various capacities, he has worked to improve the culture of inclusivity at Gilman. One of Foreman’s primary roles is emphasizing to people of color - students, parents, faculty alike - that they belong:

That has been the emphasis for so long to have kids and families feel that they too belong. That they too are part of the school in every piece of the fabric. We still have some constituencies that - I won’t say won’t allow - but you have some minority students and families who feel as though it isn’t a part of who they are. They’re gradually starting to feel the inclusiveness of that. We’re working very hard to make that come to fruition so that naysayers or those who don’t see themselves can feel a part of the school.

            Both Foreman and Gilman’s current headmaster, Henry Smyth, say the support of diversity initiatives remains strongest inside the building, with students, faculty, and staff largely united in the belief that the school should help everyone belong. “I think what has enhanced that [comfort],” Foreman told me, “is that the Board is finally resembling what the school looks like.” After Smyth reaffirmed that statement, he added, “I think the toughest group are parents. That’s not to disparage parents, but they’re all coming from a wide range of places - zip codes, tax brackets, you name it.” Fundamentally, everyone wants the strongest possible education for their children. However, defining what success means for Gilman and for boys has been fraught.

            Alongside Foreman has long been Tim Holley, as much a full Gilman man as any. Holley began at Gilman as a 7th grader in 1971. Though only three years removed from the first graduating class with African-American students, Holley remarked to me over the phone that by that time “the notion that a black kid could graduate from Gilman was already accepted. Because it happened, the fight was dead.” As an African-American student, he found Gilman to be warm and inviting. With the exception of one “waspy” boy who picked on him his first year, everyone treated him well. A true scholar-athlete who earned his way to Penn, Holley nonetheless heard comments about being “a token kind of guy” from time to time. What quieted those folks was not his extracurricular success, but his performance in the classroom. Eventually, peers respected his intellect.

            After four years serving in the Navy once he graduated from Penn, Holley returned to Gilman in 1985 as the first African-American alumnus to join the faculty. “When I came back as the first,” Holley remarked, “there was some sense that now the black community could join the Gilman community fully.” His hiring, once again by the forward-thinking Finney, signaled to the white community that black alumni were full Gilman alumni. However, complicating this success was the image of failure among certain members of his own community. Given the complicated intersectionality of race and class, many, including his own family, saw the return of an Ivy-league educated, respected, former Naval officer as a step backwards on the socioeconomic ladder. “They felt I was going to be that guy to take the family to the next level,” he remembered. While Holley joked that his parents have since come around to him teaching, this notion that coming back to teach could have meant failure shows the intense pressure for black Gilman men, those seen as beneficiaries and products of white environments, to be exceptional. There is a different standard.

            Upon his return, having previously proven himself exceptional in white power structures, Holley had an answer to parents ready to challenge his authority upon his return to Gilman. “When I was challenged by white, affluent parents, when I threw out [Penn, Naval officer, etc.],” he remembered, “they got away from me.” After serving many years as a beloved English teacher, Holley took over as Athletic Director, rising to a prominent position of power at Gilman where he served until his soft-retirement this spring. In his role as Director of Athletics, Holley played an integral role in recruiting boys and their families to Gilman. Complicating the business were the perceptions of the relationship between athletics and diversity. For while African-American boys at Gilman have experienced both academic and athletic success ever since one of the first four graduates played Ivy League football, Holley noted “a [developing] stigma to being very good athletically, particularly if they happen to be African-American.” Perceptions of strong athletes of color at Gilman have become that they are just athletes - there for diversity, there for athletics, but not there to be true Gilman men.

            While certainly not every African American student at Gilman is an athlete, the level of athletic success of those who are has exacerbated these perceptions. Though Holley and others at the school must recruit only those who they believe want to succeed academically, some recruits see the number of NFL players produced in recent years, and that route to success becomes their Gilman. Holley believes that the allure of fame and fortune for a few kids can cloud some desire to be academic stars. In reality, these students have been an aberration, and those NFL prodigies were in fact exceptionally well-rounded, as Gilman demands students “not be dumb” in his words. However, the perceived athletic focus of African-Americans at Gilman has increased.

            Since these boys must work harder to prove they are true Gilman men given the perception otherwise, many elect instead to focus their identity on a specific talent. Examining centrality, the extent to which a person defines their self-concept through a particular role, of African American athletes, Tony Brown et al. (2003) found that on racially-integrated teams, “athletic identity centrality may supersede or be discordant with racial identity centrality” (p. 165). For African-Americans, the team becomes the in-group to which they can belong regardless of race. The space, though inaccessible to those without necessary talent, can become a sanctuary from the privileged school where they do not have the same ease of belonging. While Gilman would like these students to buy into the school fully, the temptation to identify through sport is tantalizing for those who can see a future there. They may relinquish the desire to be a Gilman man to be instead a Gilman football player. For as presently defined, doing the latter can be a lot less emotionally fraught.

            As the man who has had to sell Gilman to these families, help them succeed at the school, and perhaps even justify their inclusion at the school should something go wrong, Holley has been a beacon for advice for how they can succeed at Gilman. “The highest priority has to be student - emphasis on student - athlete,” he told me. He tries to make those boys and their families coming to Gilman understand “that [they’re] not coming here to play ball,” adding the ultimate goal is for them “to make [their] academic marks so that [they] can go up through the world in a systemic way.” Holley sums up this approach with an analogy he returns to each year. He says:

You don’t come to Gilman to play in the NFL. You come to Gilman to own an NFL team. That’s the distinction we make. It’s pretty arrogant and elitist, however, particularly for parents of color, I want them to embrace the notion that ideally your son should want to excel in everything he does. Athletics is no more important of an area. We want you to be the best athlete in the school but also the best student in the school. The life is set regardless of football.

Though later allowing for different measures of success, Holley’s advice suggests that succeeding at Gilman involves adopting the mindset that excellence is expected everywhere. The aspirations are commendable and lofty. This surely is the path on which African-American boys at Gilman can attempt to be seen as cut from the Gilman cloth. But even that advice demands understanding and believing in the “we” who is dictating the terms of success. For many students of color, that “we” remains inextricably linked with privilege and the ties to Gilman’s uncomfortable past.

            Where at the onset of integration the African-American boys at Gilman were primarily middle-class, chosen for the high likelihood of success despite their skin color, now a greater percentage comes from underprivileged backgrounds. Many boys are arriving with less exposure to rigorous academic lifestyles. Crucially, many are even further removed from privilege. They must do more to fit in, more to earn the title of a Gilman man. One such student was Rodney Glasgow, now a noted diversity activist in the independent school world, who graduated in 1997 after seven years at the school. Recently, he returned to his alma mater to speak at an event organized by Foreman’s office. After his talk, Glasgow talked with Sarah Lloyd further about his experiences. By his graduation, having found his group, the yearbook staff, he “felt like [he] was at home” at Gilman. However, along the way, there were immense challenges.

            Identifying as black, gay/gender non-conforming, and poor, Glasgow saw immediately that he did not fit the above “we” - he was not what it meant to be Gilman. Nor was he an athlete who could make his own Gilman through his team. Beyond tuition, financing the expected lifestyle was particularly tough. For example, finding new clothes to wear that fit the dress code was a need, as the lack of uniforms meant he would have stood out wearing the same shirt two days in a row. Teachers would sometimes let him pay $5 instead of $10 to attend a dance. “The money piece kind of got lumped in with being black,” he said, “people just assumed that I was poor because I was black.” In racially charged 90’s Baltimore, during the era of the Rodney King murder and the OJ Simpson trial, Glasgow was hyper aware of how he was being perceived as a black man on the predominantly white campus. “I remember watching a white teacher being so upset that OJ was acquitted and she assumed that I was too,” he continued, “I wasn’t.”

            Glasgow remembers always feeling racialized. His successes were qualified, perceived as being because of the color of his skin:

I remember the SATs had “Merit Finalists” and “Black Merit Finalists” and I was one of them. And people definitely thought that I was getting into the colleges I was getting into because of affirmative action, but at the same time most of my friends at school were white.

Even as he succeeded across a variety of areas, he could never prove himself to be that Gilman man to others. But while being black was talked about, his sexuality was not. “I wasn’t able to process that identity in myself,” he said, “and when we did talk about it, it was in negative ways.” Glasgow felt wholly marginalized due to his differences. The culture of wealth, whiteness and athleticism never fit.

            Yet over time, as Glasgow became more accustomed to Gilman, and begun to internalize some of his environment, he felt removed from his home too. “There was a point where I became the insider [in my families’ eyes].” In his 1992 study of African Americans at private boarding schools during the time Glasgow was at Gilman, Peter Cookson Jr. observed the prevalence of that type of separation. “African American prep school students are caught between two cultures,” he wrote, “and, in a sense, doubly marginalized” (p. 220). Like Glasgow described, buying into the school culture blocked students of color from connecting with parents and peers at home, while their skin color and class concurrently hindered them from being fully accepted at school. For Glasgow, it was doubly tough to be accepted because of his class, which was left unspoken. Cookson argued, “doubly marginalized African American students are asked to play a cultural and political game that cannot be won because of their race (the apparent cause) and their class (the invisible cause)” (p. 225). Given these disadvantages in the this stratified sphere at Gilman, Glasgow was always likely to be an “outsider within” (p. 225). He was playing a game he could likely never win. In adapting to Gilman, to a culture that at once compelled him to try to fit its model, yet denied him vital parts of his self through its privilege and history, Glasgow risked being a part of no communities.  

            At an elite independent school not unlike Gilman, Peter Kuriloff and Michael Reichert (2003) examined the lives of students at the Haverford School near the turn of the century. In interviewing the boys of color, the authors found that the African-American boys were helping each other navigate the school by passing along tips on how to succeed. They found people with similar life experiences who could help them access the “hegemonic cultural capital” that aids upward movement in the white power systems (Kuriloff & Reichert, p. 753). At Gilman, administrators and faculty of color are also helping to play those vital roles. For without the knowledge of how to navigate the new environment, students of color risk sinking. Greene, Foreman and Holley have greatly helped students like Glasgow find a home amidst the often tumultuous experiences, whether they were perceived to belong or not. Glasgow recalled Greene making him go to the diversity conference as a student, one that he’s now run for 20 years. “I owe it all to him,” he remarked, adding he originally insisted he had no interest in going. They, along with Glasgow, can offer incoming families of color advice on how to “play the game.” They can help these students use Gilman to better their lives and access success.

            To his credit, the head of Gilman realizes that this game the students are playing remains privileged, the game remains white. Smyth knows that as presently constituted, the game rewards insiders. It invites boys who do not or cannot fit the predefined conceptions of excellence, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds, to be perceived as less than full Gilman men. As a result, the culture compels boys of color to be something other than themselves to reach the necessary levels of institutional knowledge and acceptance. For the game to be fair, Gilman must get to a point where insiderdom does not necessitate conformity to antiquated, inequitable standards.

            To attempt to alter the perception of students of color at Gilman, and in an initial attempt to change the game, Smyth has begun clarifying the language used in official documents. Where Foreman’s office used to be called Community and Diversity, it has been changed to Community, Inclusion, and Equity. “Some people would say ‘it’s just a name,’” Smyth said, “but I think it’s a name that more accurately reflects what we’re trying to do.” The switch is motivated by an attempt to alter the perceived goals for diversity. “I would maintain that as important as ‘community’ and ‘diversity’ are as words,” Smyth added, “they might be outdated terms in terms of what our aspirations are for the community we’re trying to build.” He is striving to bring Gilman past diversity, past simply bringing people of color and of different identities to campus, instead making those people equitable members of the community.

            This effort to change the language of the school may help detokenize boys of color who community members have labeled as less than full members of the school. It can allow the school to expand the definitions of what it means to be a Gilman man. Succeeding on the football field, for instance, can be a Gilman experience. Eventually, for these students to be truly at home at Gilman, for them to be full Gilman men, they have to be able to be themselves. There cannot be a single, inequitable game, but rather one that can be played by students of many differing identifiers. Not every student who walks across the stage at graduation needs to look the same. Rather, they can create their own Gilman. Smyth hopes that when a particular boy enters the school, social and cultural identifiers cannot predict any outcomes. “To me,” he says, “that’s a truly equitable community so you don’t look around and say ‘well, he’s African-American, so this is gonna be his outcome.’”

            To help make sure underprivileged students have the resources to reach to same outcomes as others, Smyth helped start the Finney-Greene program a year ago, named for the duo that transitioned Gilman into an integrated space. The endowed Finney-Greene Scholars program aims to provide new levels of support, mentorship, and opportunities to boys who otherwise might struggle.  “Gilman, for a long time,” Smyth acknowledged, “has admitted boys for whom coming to Gilman represents a big leap and hasn’t necessarily had the support mechanisms in place to allow them to fully embrace or participate in the Gilman experience.” When the move to Gilman might be too much of a jump for a boy, this program can help bridge the gap. “It’s giving [these boys] the support to be successful,” Foreman added. In its early stages, it has dramatically eased the transitions of new boys from atypical Gilman backgrounds.

            Throughout Gilman’s history, the teachers and administrators of color have born the weight of running programs like Upward Bound and Finney-Greene. While the additional mentoring can be taxing, they realize the vital role they are playing for the boys at Gilman.  “When children see themselves in adults in positions of authority, it gives them hope,” Holley said, “They think, wow, I see a person of authority who looks like me and I could be that person.” Now, Smyth is beginning to replace these retiring, established leaders of the school who have steered the school’s diversity efforts for 30-plus years. Holley’s positions as Director of Athletics and Football Coach had to be filled this past year as he transitioned to a more relaxed role. After the announcement of the new co-Athletic Directors was made, Holley told me he had an African-American alumnus call him on the phone who said, “now let me make sure I understand this. They replaced you with three people and they are all white?” While that fact cannot be disputed, and Holley noted that is not necessarily a bad thing, he wants the school to recognize that people of color are closely monitoring what will happen when Mr. Foreman retires relatively soon. “If Mr. Foreman retires and the person who takes his place is a white person, that’s going to be a statement,” he remarked, “Now I’m not saying Gilman has to hire a black person, but Gilman has to be sensitive to the fact that you are dealing with a very diverse society and that people are keeping score.” These choices carry resounding impacts for the school, as these key figures have played larger-than-life roles in the community. They have not only welcomed boys of color, but helped them find a home and given them a means to succeed.

            Whatever the upcoming hiring might bring, this research certainly shows that Gilman must ultimately call upon its teachers to create a new culture. In the classroom, to make all students feel empowered and comfortable, they must design equitable curriculum, classes that allow boys of color and underprivileged boys to see themselves within the fabric of the school. They must not aim to assimilate students into one way of thinking, but instead celebrate the differences. Assessment types should be varied, so as not to privilege one way of thinking over another. Success cannot still be measured one way. However, the battlefront for an equitable community continues outside the classroom. Especially as advisors, teachers have the capacity to change mindsets. They can combat comments that tokenize, and build up the Gilman experience as something accessible to all. On the one hand, they can help their students of color play the game, on the other hand though, they can begin to change the game.

            When terms for a game are defined before one party enters, they are almost never fair. This game at Gilman, one Greene, Foreman, Holley, and Glasgow have long help students of color play, I will wager is wholly about trying to “be a Gilman man.” For students of color, it is fitting the definitions of success defined by the leaders of Gilman’s prejudicial past to move up in their world. It is needing to abandon parts of the self in order to access hegemonic cultural capital rooted in century-old racism. “A Gilman man” never was supposed to encompass anyone other than wealthy, white, Christians. The term was established when Gilman was segregated, resting in a bigoted community literally built on racism. Understanding that moving out of Roland Park would be nearly impossible given the money and resources tied to the physical grounds, Gilman must do more than merely acknowledge and decry the inhumane history of its broader community. African American students at Gilman have long played a game never designed for them to enter, yet the rules have not changed. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the first African-American graduates, Gilman owes its students of color a fair chance. For perceptions to change, for Gilman students of all races and identities to have the same opportunity to be seen as Gilman men as white students, there needs to be a new game. And this time, everybody needs a place at the table when the rules are defined.


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Cookson, Jr., P. W. & Persell, C. H. (1991). Race and class in America’s preparatory boarding schools: African   Americans as the “outsiders within.” The Journal of Negro Education, 60(2), 219-228.

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Greene, W. (2011, November 22). Interview by Nancy Gilpin [Tape Recording]. Oral History Project. Gilman   Archives, Baltimore, MD.

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Wiggins, W. (2016, April 27). Interview by M. Barrett [Tape Recording]. Oral History Project. Gilman Archives,   Baltimore, MD.

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