Gallery walk examines the roots of racism in America

As part of Thayer's "Antiracism and Social Justice" course, Academy juniors and seniors recently viewed photos on race and racism in America as they walked through a class exhibit in Thayer Art Gallery. 

The gallery walk featured moments in American history before the Civil War highlighting such topics as the the transatlantic slave trade, slave patrols, and the infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857. There were also writings from a variety of significant figures including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Banneker, and Phillis Wheatley. 

All juniors and seniors viewed the gallery of posters before responding via sticky-note comments. Students explored, among other topics, both defenses and criticisms of slavery; the quest for and denial of citizenship; the driving force behind slave uprisings; and the roots and lasting impact of racism and violence. 

Upper School History Faculty Matt Dunne and Antiracism and Social Justice teacher Erica Archabal P '27 created the gallery walk by combining Dunne's historical work with an article written by Ibram X. Kendi. 

"We wanted kids to get a sense of a range of voices talking about issues of race and racism," said Dunne, who was quick to credit the encouragement of Middle School History Faculty Danny Seymour and the editorial support of Archabal. "We wanted to provide a look at the historical roots of those issues."

Another goal, said Dunne, was to demonstrate how the issues of today have long histories. 

"The place of Black Americans in the nation has been an intense topic of discussion from the beginning," he said. 

Courses such as this are part of an antiracism education initiative, which is itself one facet of Thayer Academy's Strategic Plan for Racial Equity and Justice. The initiative states that the Academy "must consider additional ways through our curriculum, professional development, and parent involvement to provide a more comprehensive depiction of the American experience and bias." 

Thayer Academy Antiracism Course Gallery Walk

Juniors and seniors recently explored the history of race and racism in America, pre-Civil War, as they walked through a class exhibit in Thayer Art Gallery.