- Head of School
The unveiling of a memorial sculpture over the weekend of Sept. 17-19 to commemorate the tragic 1906 lynching of Ed Johnson was used as a teaching and healing opportunity for McCallie, which was one of the sponsors of the weekend activities.
McCallie’s involvement in the weekend included a Friday Chapel talk by Head of School Lee Burns ’87 in which he told students the story of how one of the founders of McCallie, the Rev. T.H. McCallie, tried to prevent the lynching of Mr. Johnson and later offered shelter on campus to the Black family of one of Mr. Johnson’s lawyers to keep them safe from an angry mob.
“As you walk to the Dining Hall today, or back to your dorms, or elsewhere, I want you to reflect on what a historic, brave, honorable event took place on the very ground upon which we trod,” Mr. Burns told the students. He further encouraged the students to use the Ed Johnson story to think about McCallie’s Moving Together As Brothers initiative, which concentrates on efforts to extend the full McCallie experience to all students. “How can we honor the dignity of every individual, regardless of the color of their skin, or their nationality, or their religious beliefs, or their sexual orientation?” asked Mr. Burns. “What can you do in your daily lives to let everyone know that you honor them for who they are and that you will work each day to promote brotherly unity with everyone and resist the hate of division?”
As part of the weekend, McCallie also released a podcast in which the Ed Johnson Project and the McCallie School connection were discussed, as well as how McCallie has been teaching the Ed Johnson story in its history classes. That podcast features Donivan Brown, chair of the Ed Johnson Project, Eleanor McCallie Cooper, great-granddaughter of the Rev. T. H. McCallie, Mel Cooper, former Vice President of Development at McCallie, and McCallie History teacher Bart Wallin ’99. The podcast is part of McCallie’s Stories from the Ridge podcast series and can be found here or by searching for McCallie Stories from the Ridge on major podcast platforms.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and McCallie alumnus Jon Meacham ’87, was featured in a riveting Saturday discussion with Princeton University Professor Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr. on the topic of the legacy of lynchings in American history. A number of McCallie students and teachers attended that event, as they did at several other events throughout the city and the Sunday ceremony officially dedicating the sculpture at the south end of Walnut Street Bridge. A video of that discussion is scheduled to be posted soon on the Ed Johnson Project website.