Moody Bible Institute Apologizes for Decades-Old Blackface Photos

By Julie Roys

Senior leaders at the Moody Bible Institute (MBI) are apologizing for decades-old yearbook photos, showing white students in blackface.

According to a statement posted on  MBI’s website, the photos are from the 1974 and 1984 yearbooks and were just recently brought to the institute’s attention.

“Regardless of when these photos were taken, or what the intent of the students was at that time, these pictures are shocking and deeply offensive,” the leaders said in the statement. The MBI leaders apologized for the photos, as well as “the underlying ignorance and the racist foundation blackface represents.”

They added, “This absolutely does not reflect how we envision our Moody community, which is grounded in God’s Word and the gospel of Jesus Christ. It also undermines the advancements we have made together in the area of diversity.”

Mark Jobe

Two weeks ago, Moody President Mark Jobe wrote a letter denouncing the killing of George Floyd and calling on the Moody community to pray for the country. Days later, Dr. Jobe, MBI Provost Dwight Perry, and Community Relations Director Roy Patterson shared personal reflections on how to respond to the current crisis.

“The reality is that we do need justice,” Patterson said. “Any of us that have been violated, any of us that have been marginalized, or minimized unjustly have not liked it. When it’s systemic, it’s even worse. There’s a broad stroke that says, ‘This is how all of them are.’ That’s a problem.”

Racial issues have sparked controversy at Moody before. In 2015, a Moody professor criticized a diversity event on campus and use of the term “white privilege.”

The professor later apologized for his comments. And then-president, Paul Nyquist, wrote a response, affirming that “privilege exists in our broader society and virtually every person of color can share experiences to validate its existence.”

In the recent statement, MBI leaders pledge to “carefully examine our history” to “understand our past sins and mistakes.” They also pledged to “analyze the current ministry” of MBI “to make sure we are reflecting God’s values when it comes to all racial issues.”

Dr. Jobe and Dr. Perry, author of Breaking Down Barriers: A Black Evangelical Explains the Black Church, reportedly have already begun the process of examination and promised to discuss racial issues in depth in upcoming weeks.

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3 thoughts on “Moody Bible Institute Apologizes for Decades-Old Blackface Photos”

  1. Glad to hear Moody is examining and seeking to change harmful actions and attitudes. Lord examine my heart and expose anything that is displeasing to you.

  2. It doesn’t take hundreds of years or even decades to make systemic changes to dismantle institutional racism. The issue is that the institutions hosting racism doesn’t want to change. It’s really that simple. Does Moody really expect people to believe they are just now becoming aware that they have numerous blackface photos in their yearbooks. The fact that a Christian Bible College allowed anyone to dress up in blackface in a yearbook photo speaks volumes about Moody. Moody is always involved in some scandal. I do recall a couple of years ago a Black student blew the whistle about his time at Moody. Somewhere in that article a Moody college professor declared racism doesn’t exist or racism is dead. I wonder if that person is still working there.

  3. Greetings everyone,

    Life is hard and complicated and we all have made mistakes/sinned/wronged others. Institutions Are made up of people and are not much different.

    But I do believe in Redemption. And while that redemption may be freely given by God, What we say, do, and think/feel need to be aligned with God before we can receive it. This comes at a cost to our ego/pride. We have to admit we were wrong and do what we can to make it right. Saying what others expect is easy, doing what is right takes Grace. You aren’t going to be popular at times. It takes time, consitstanT effort and a willingness to leave some people behind if they wont follow.

    I hope this marks a true change in/at Moody. I at lease can say they have done what I as a Christian expect of them for this issue. I pray that the hard work to remove the sin of Racism is being done and will continue.

    CJ

    Sorry about some of the weird mix case words. My keyboard is acting up.

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