Quincy High School parents and community members came out by the dozens to rally in front of the school Monday evening in support of Principal Keith S. Ford, who was the target of racist graffiti found on the wall of a school restroom last week.
The demonstration was organized by parents after Ford, who is Black, sent out a letter Thursday describing the graffiti as “threatening to me personally, as well as other members of our school community.”
Ford joined the group Monday night and expressed gratitude for their support.
“It’s great to see folks come together on this and see the importance of how to unify,” he said. “Obviously there’s still work to do, but we continue to have that positive spin on the direction we’re going.”
A photo of a portion of the graffiti that was obtained by the Globe shows a message scrawled in pencil: “We want a white principal.”
Below those words is a stick figure with a line emerging from the head, evoking the children’s guessing game “Hangman,” and alongside the figure is written “Mr. Ford,” with an arrow pointing toward the head. An investigation into the graffiti is ongoing.
At the rally Monday night, drivers beeped their horns as they passed the crowd of about 50 Quincy residents and members of the high school community, many holding signs denouncing racism and pledging support for Ford.
Amy Sorensen-Alawad, the mother of a Quincy High School student, said the rally was organized to show support for Ford and BIPOC members of the school community, and to be a “call to action” for school district officials to “step up when it comes to anti-racist policy training and curriculum because this isn’t a one-off incident.”
“When I became aware of the recent hateful racist graffiti at Quincy High and that it was a specific and direct threat to Principal Ford, I just felt it was imperative to speak out against it and stand in solidarity with him and all school staff and students and members of our community who identify as a person of color,” she said. “Unfortunately, things have been going on for a while across our school system, and we want change and we need change.”
Last year, Quincy High School students walked out in protest after many received a 25-second cellphone video showing a white student using the n-word repeatedly while gleefully evoking the horrors of slavery and expressing hatred for Black people, the Globe previously reported.
The video led to a fight at school when a Black student confronted and punched its creator, and that altercation was also recorded on video and circulated by students, the Globe reported.
Ford was the principal of North Quincy High School last year, but he was brought over to Quincy High following the video controversy.
“The walkout really opened the door on some action items for us,” Ford said. “We preach about having a welcoming, safe, respectful environment throughout the year, and folks really feel that.”
Quincy Public School Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, who attended the rally Monday night, said the high school has benefitted under Ford’s leadership and has improved in areas of diversity and inclusion.
“Bringing Principal Ford over here has been fantastic for Quincy High School and to see this, a direct attack against the principal, is very disheartening,” he said.
Mulvey added that the graffiti also represents an attack against the wider community of BIPOC students and faculty.
“We want to make sure that they feel supported and that our culture and climate here in Quincy is a place where students [and] staff feel comfortable and want to come to school every day and enjoy their environment,” he said.
Material from previous Globe stories was used in this report.
Nick Stoico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.