More than 200 new and current black students and their families attended a back-to-school cookout on Tuesday, August 20 in Esther Ann Hall. The welcome event, hosted by the Black Alumni Committee, was an opportunity for alumni, students, parents, faculty, and staff to reunite with old friends and make new connections.
Rob Young ‘86, P ‘19, ‘20, President of the Board of Trustees, greeted attendees and reflected on his time as a McDonogh student. Dr. Lana Bates, Director of Equity and Inclusion, explained her role and how the Sankofa Club, MPA Equity & Inclusion Committee, and Black Alumni Committee support our students and enrich the school. Kellee Parrott Gonzalez ‘96, P’ 34, Chair of the Black Alumni Committee, shared how the Committee was created as a way for black families to build community and connections on behalf of students. Erika Seth Davies ‘94, P ‘ 27, ‘28, Associate Director of Philanthropy, encouraged everyone to remember the name, John Milton Belcher III -- the first black student to enroll at McDonogh as a first-grader in 1959 and the first black graduate in 1971.
Gonzalez was delighted by the number of people in attendance and the palpable feeling of excitement and community. “The first annual welcome reception for black McDonogh families was a rousing success,” she says. “The overwhelming response confirmed the need and solidified our purpose: To assist the school in meeting the needs of current students and families, and to serve as a conduit of connection for black McDonogh Alumni.”