Offensive images discovered in old USC yearbooks

Weeks after the governor of Virginia admitted to wearing blackface in his 1980s Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook, a look into USC archives found equally racist imagery.

The university's old yearbook, "The Garnet and Black," revealed images offensive enough to prompt a letter from University President Harris Pastides on Tuesday.

A university archivist reviewed the content of the yearbook, which was published from 1899 to 1994, and found "a number of offensive photos depicting white students in blackface and other offensive content," Pastides' letter read.

After undergoing its own review of the yearbook's archives, The Daily Gamecock found several instances of students in blackface and photos of offensive props like the "Sambo."

A photo from 1982 shows several members of the USC's no-longer-existing chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at a "Plantation Party," according to the caption. Six students, two of them wearing blackface, pose in the photo, completing "the old plantation scene," the caption said.

John Steinberger, the former chairman of the Charleston County Republican Party, was indicated by the caption to be in the photo. He said he does not recognize his image in the photo, according to Greenville News.

Other photos in the yearbook include sorority members appearing in blackface for skits or dressing as Aunt Jemima.

Another page of the 1982 edition describes the "Old South Ball," which is a traditional event for the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. Titled "Hoop Skirts and Confederate Uniforms at Old South," the page includes a photo of a man appearing to be in blackface. 

"On stage at the Kappa Alpha House," the page reads, "brothers perform their Mimics skits in which they paint their faces black and dance to music by Michael Jackson."

In his letter to the university, Pastides acknowledges a "national dialogue" surrounding racist or offensive images in old yearbooks, and he said such attitudes have no place in the community.

"While we cannot change the past, we will continue to work every day to create an environment in which each of us feels welcome and can thrive," the letter said.


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