A Special Publication
their platform and resources and
sacriﬁcing their careers despite
the resistance from certain owners
to bring awareness and encourage
change. However, we can’t do this by
ourselves. We need everyone to join
in the ﬁght against racial injustice.
The Black Lives Matter movement
continues to play out in mass
protests, but it also created a sense
that, for those who have silently
suered the pain of racism, now
is the moment to speak. To come
forward. To be silent no longer.
In Atlanta, one way that this came
about was through the creation
of a series of Instagram accounts
relating the anonymous experiences
with racism of Black people at the
city’s private schools. The Black at
Woodward account ﬁrst posted on
June 15, with this submission from a
Class of 2020 alum:
“Once I wore long cornrows to
school and one of my white friends
told me I looked like I escaped from
prison. I never wore cornrows again.”
For those of us who are part of the
Woodward community, we watched
with shock and a great deal of pain
as more posts followed. Hundreds of
them. And as the school opened up a
form for people to share their stories
directly with school leaders, even
more came in.
Woodward Academy is an
institution that has a majority of non-
white students—my children among
them. It is a place that proclaims
diversity as a strength in its mission
statement. Woodward reﬂects the
diversity of Atlanta, which is why my
wife and I decided to invest in the
school with our children's education.
But it's also a place that allowed racist
sentiment to inﬂame without enough
For many, I think that these past
months have served as an awakening.
While you may have thought that
racism was a relic of the past—that
we had ﬂipped the page on that
chapter of history—it in fact is very
much alive and present. Of course, if
you are Black, you knew this already.
Woodward’s failures have left
behind a trail of damage—people
who were made to feel less than
human on account of the color
of their skin, and who feel that
Woodward as an institution did too
little to protect them.
In this publication, you will read
the stories of some of those people
who were hurt and made to feel less
than. And you also will read visions
and hopes for a path forward in the
never-ending work against bigotry
and cruelty. It is our hope that this lets
all those who have been harmed know
that they are heard and recognized.
We also hope that it will serve as a
starting point for a conversation about
what can come next.
For those of you reading this who
are white, I challenge you. If you
truly are interested in joining the
ﬁght, you cannot sit back and do
nothing. Ask questions. Challenge
your beliefs. Protest. Stand with us to
ﬁght this system. Use the resources
that have been aorded to you by a
system of discrimination that has
wronged Black and brown people
for hundreds of years. I encourage
everyone, let your voice be heard.
Know that we have a lot of people
behind the scenes, myself included,
working to make this school a better
place for all.
The ball is in Woodward’s
court. Now is the chance to learn
how committed the Academy is
to accountability and respect—
something this Academy has failed
to show in the past. President
Stuart Gulley is a good man, and I
will continue to support him and
his eorts to make this institution
the standard for racial equality,
transparency, and accountability.
As I look back at Woodward’s
history, I see the undeniable truth
that it was formed as an all male, all
white Academy, and that it existed
in that form until the late 1960s. For
nearly 70 years, neither I nor my
children would’ve been welcome
here. That is in our DNA. But I
also know that Woodward was the
ﬁrst of Atlanta’s private schools to
integrate—something the leaders
chose to do willingly.
Because, ultimately, Woodward
is about responsibility and respect.
It is about learning to do your best,
and to do so in the service of making
the world a better place. To not just
learn, but to grow as a person. That
vision goes all the way back to Col.
John Charles Woodward and the
school’s founding. That, above all, is
the Woodward Way.
We don’t need to forge a new
identity. We just lost our way. And
now, we have our call to action. It’s
time to get back on the right path.
Galatians 5:22 — But the fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, and self-control.
Rodney Harrison is a current parent
of Woodward students and a member
of the Academy’s Governing Board.
As an NFL player, Harrison was an
All-Pro performer with the San Diego
Chargers and New England Patriots,
winning two Super Bowl rings.
Currently, he serves as an NFL TV
analyst for NBC.