Ursuline Academy of Dallas apologized Friday for Ursuline students pictured in “blueface” at a 1979 fundraising event called “Senior Slave Day.” The photos, from that year’s yearbook, show students participating in the fundraiser, in which seniors and teachers sold themselves in what appears to be a slave auction-style event.
“Unquestionably we regret this awful incident in our school’s history, and we sincerely apologize for the distress it has caused our students, our alumnae, and others in our Ursuline community,” Ursuline President Gretchen Kane said in a release. The photos appeared on social media after a growing controversy in Virginia, where a photo from Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook was uncovered last week, depicting a man in blackface standing next to a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Nicole Johnson, a 2016 graduate of the school, accused the school of “sweeping” the history of the yearbooks under the rug. “I have so many questions,” Johnson wrote in a Facebook post. “This is unacceptable.”
Jenne Jaeb, a 1976 graduate of Ursuline, posted on Facebook that “Slave Day” was part of Senior Week before her class arrived in 1972. “It’s in ALL of our yearbooks. It was part of our senior year tradition,” she wrote. “We raised money by raffling off teachers and freshman. We donated a class gift with the funds we raised. This was not an isolated incident. It was one of many UA traditions.
“We’ve grown. This reality is part of our past. And try as we may we cannot erase it — just like we can’t erase drinking too much, dating the wrong boy, flunking, disappointing our parents and more importantly — ourselves. Today we are mothers, and grandmothers. We are feminists, activists, conservatives, and liberals, career women, professionals — girls who love Ursuline. Girls who despise it. Girls who appreciate Ursuline and all it did and gave to us. Women.”
Scarlett Yurima Sanchez wrote on Facebook, “As a mom of a senior in the minority community at Ursuline, I am so proud of Ursuline for addressing this concern and for being transparent about it. Those actions in 1979 do not represent the Ursuline Academy that my daughter goes to everyday. We have witnessed firsthand how Urusuline has been working very hard on diversity and inclusion.”
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