‘No watermelon’: Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts apologizes to students subjected to racism

BOSTON (WHDH) - The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston issued an apology to a group of minority middle school students after they said staff and patrons directed racist remarks at them during a field trip last week.

Marvelynne Lamy, a seventh-grade teacher at Dorchester’s Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy, told 7News that her 26 students were targeted by racism, including a museum security guard who left white children alone but singled them out as they went from exhibit to exhibit.

One staff member said, “no food, no drink, and no watermelon” while explaining the museum rules to the students, according to Lamy. She also says a patron referred to her students as “expletive black kids.”

“This whole situation was horrible,” said Taliana Jeune, a teacher who was also on the trip. “There is no way speaking about what happened right now.”

The teachers say they initially complained to the museum but nothing was immediately done to rectify what had happened.

Museum officials apologized to the students and staff in a letter posted on its website Wednesday.

“Last week, a number of students on an organized visit encountered a range of challenging and unacceptable experiences that made them feel unwelcome,” the letter read in part. “That is not who we are or want to be. Our intention is to set the highest of standards, and we are committed to doing the work that it will take to get there.”

Museum officials spoke with students and school staff on Thursday. Free museum tickets were offered to the school but they declined.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called the incident “disturbing.”

An investigation is ongoing.

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