Fifty-Eight Years Since Integration

On one of the first pages of McDonogh School: An Interpretive Chronology written by Hugh Burgess, Jr. and Robert Smoot III is a quote from one of McDonogh's former headmasters, Louis Lamborn. Mr. Lamborn said to the authors, "Boys, be sure you get one thing in: there's nothing permanent but change." Over its 143-year history, McDonogh School has most certainly seen plenty of change.

In the fall of 1959, J. Milton Belcher became the school's first African-American student. The integration of McDonogh came five years after the famous Brown v. Board of Education decision, which mandated the integration of public schools. McDonogh, as an independent school, was not required by law to integrate, but its leaders decided that integration was the right thing to do.

"I give and bequeath to the Mayor, Aldermen, and Inhabitants, of the City of Baltimore, in the state of Maryland, and their Successors, forever; for the express and sole purpose of establishing, a School Farm on an Extensive scale, for the destitute, and the Poorest, of the Poor, Male Children and Youth, (say Firstly, of the City of Baltimore, in the State of Maryland, Secondly, of every town and village of said State, and Thirdly, of All, the great maritime cities, of the United States; Say New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Boston, Charleston, Savannah, Providence, Salem, &c. &c,) of all Castes of Color, from the age of Four years, to that of Sixteen years; where they shall be sheltered, lodged, clothed, fed, instructed in the Christian religion, and a plain English education given them; including reading, writing, Arithmetic, History, Geography, &c, &c. and taught practically, (by making them labor) the art of husbandry or farming, in all its parts and details; as well as the Science, generally, of Agriculture.

In the 58 years since Milton Belcher first walked McDonogh's campus, students of "all castes of color" have walked McDonogh's campus just as John McDonogh requested in his will.


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McDonogh School | 410.363.0600 |
8600 McDonogh Road | Owings Mills | Maryland | 21117