Texas A&M addresses racist, prejudice photos in old yearbooks

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COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - The president of Texas A&M University is addressing photos found in old university yearbooks, and some of them are openly racist and offensive.

All of the yearbooks have been digitized, meaning anyone can scroll back through time. President Young isn't making any excuses, but says they are part of the university's history. Tradition stands strong at Texas A&M, but there are some that the school hopes stay in the past.

“If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you are," said David Carlson, the Dean of University Libraries.

David Carlson is the Dean of the Cushing Memorial Library at A&M. He says the university wants people to have access to the old yearbooks uncensored.

"Racism is racism, bigotry is bigotry, prejudice is prejudice, and even if it was ‘acceptable’ practice back in the 20's, for example, that doesn't make it any less racist," Carlson said.

The archives team found pictures of students in KKK robes and hoods, caricatures mocking African-Americans, and photos objectifying women.

In a letter to the Aggie community, President Young says regardless of the time period, the racist photos are markers of bigotry and prejudice.

"It is, like a perpetuation of this old Jim Crow stereotype that blacks are not really worthy of being fully-fledged citizens," said Michael Collins with the Department of Africana Studies.

Collins says the school not hiding from the photos is a great step, and it will help show the school stands for respect for all.

"People who don't know history are doomed not to understand the present.
Collins said.

And it’s something that Carlson and the archive team echo.

"Mistakes of the past, even though they may be mistakes, they're mistakes that we can learn from. If we hide them, we never learn from them," Carlson said.

The library team digitized the photos just the way they were, noting that some content would be offensive and the views are not endorsed.

You can find the photos in their original form in the Cushing Library, or by visiting their online yearbook archives. There is a link to that website in our 'Related Links' section.