June 2, 2020 — Northfield Mount Hermon Head of School Brian Hargrove shared this message with all members of the NMH community today:
Northfield Mount Hermon was built on the principles of inclusion, diversity, and social justice. History guides and grounds us, but it does not inoculate us. Our work at NMH is far from done.
I joined NMH because I believe our school is a force for good. We change the world one student at a time. In doing so, we alter the course of communities around the world. We also serve as a beacon for other schools and institutions here and around the globe.
In the school’s first year, D.L. Moody instructed the principal of Northfield Seminary to recruit Native Americans to the school, and in 1884, Lydia Emma Keys, a full member of the Cherokee Indian tribe, graduated with Northfield’s first class. She returned to her home in Oklahoma and dedicated her career to teaching. Two years later, Thomas Nelson Baker, Sr., who was born into slavery, entered Mount Hermon. He graduated in 1889 and he later became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy (from Yale). The lives of service led by Lydia Keys and Thomas Baker shine a light on the enduring strength of our school’s values.
In opening its doors to Lydia Keys, Thomas Baker, and, a few years later, Kotai Masuda from Japan and Chan Loon Teung from China, NMH took a stand. A part of our school's historical DNA is that African Americans, Native Americans, Chinese Americans, and other marginalized groups have contributed to and relied on D.L. Moody's vision: faith, fellowship, service, inclusion, leadership. And, for all of our students and alumni, we know this school has served as a home — that these hills have provided comfort and support and a sense of community during critical moments like those in 1918, 1941, 1968, 2001, and today. In those earlier moments, we provided comfort and support amidst psychological and physical abuse that most would say would never, never happen again.
Today, many in our community are scared, angry, exhausted, and isolated. As evidenced by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many more whose names we do not know, systemic racism continues to perpetuate hate, inequities, and inequalities in our country and elsewhere. We can do better, and we must do better.
I want to be absolutely clear: black lives matter. At NMH, we stand with and embrace our students, employees, and alumni of color and say clearly, we are with you. Let us hold up the values we embrace and the mission we hold dear.
As we stand up in support, please know that we are taking additional steps on our campus to be our best selves. We have scheduled town hall meetings with students this week, and we will soon hold similar sessions with faculty and alumni. We will engage hard questions and address the systems of oppression in our societies. As we do this, we will continue to examine ourselves, our hiring and admission practices, as well as our curriculum, and, as a community, we will determine our next steps. We seek to disrupt with purpose just as D.L. Moody did when he invited oppressed groups to be members of the NMH community so long ago.
Together, our community shines light on the injustices that plague our societies around the world. We offer love to those in pain. We stand in solidarity as we seek to work together to heal our country. And acting with humanity and purpose strengthens our conviction.
With hope and clarity of our shared work,
Brian Hargrove, Head of School