In the fall of 2021, the 1968 Multicultural Center (’68 Center for short)
was opened for community use. The name of this space reflects a major moment in the history of Woodberry Forest School, as 1968 was the year in which the school’s board of trustees made the long overdue decision to integrate Woodberry. The featured exhibit in the center chronicles key moments in Woodberry’s path towards integration, as well as the legacy of strength and resilience that has been built by our pioneering African American alumni of the late 1960s and beyond. There are a total of five displays: “Challenging Tradition,” “Broadening Perspectives,” “In Search for Greatness,” “A Legacy of Strength,” and “Paving a Path for the Future.” Each display tells a different story, but they all seek to provide insights about the challenges, the triumphs, and the people that have helped shape Woodberry into the school that it is today.
By diving into articles from The Oracle, interviews from Black alumni, a letter from the class of 1970, and various images from the past five decades, any member of the Woodberry community can see that our institution's proximity to a racist history is closer than we might imagine. By acknowledging and owning this history, not only do we practice accountability, but we also affirm and validate the experiences of our first African American students and the generations of African American, Black, and racially minoritized students who have since followed in their footsteps. Furthermore, the 1968 Multicultural Center calls our entire community to action as summarized by the quote from former headmaster, A. Baker Duncan, on the wall which reads “to challenge ourselves, we must broaden our perspectives.” Regardless of your identity or background, learning about and honoring Woodberry’s story of integration is a concrete step that we can all take to broaden our perspectives.
In addition to housing the exhibit on Woodberry’s integration, the ‘68 Center operates as a dedicated space where boys can come together and build cultural competency. Complete with an AV setup and seating for 30 or more, the space is used in a variety of ways. First and foremost, our school’s affinity groups are always encouraged to host their meetings in the ‘68 Center. We value the senses of belonging that affinity groups offer our boys, so we prioritize the standing guarantee of this physical space for them. Second, members of the faculty often host movie nights for boys in the ‘68 Center, screening films that hold the potential to build cultural competency. Featured films have included Do the Right Thing, Milk, and Get Out. Lastly, the space operates as a unique place to host fishbowl discussions, which invite all members of the community to share their perspectives on culturally relevant questions about Woodberry Forest, one of the top boys’ boarding schools, or the wider world.