Since 1880, the name of B. L. Gildersleeve has appeared on the cover or title page of every issue of AJP. Starting with this issue, that practice comes to an end. In addition, since 1989, the Gildersleeve Prize has been awarded annually for the best article published in AJP. That prize will now be renamed the AJP Best Article Prize.
Gildersleeve was identified as editor of the journal from its beginning until 1919, and thereafter as its founder. His contributions to AJP and to the profession of Classics in the United States are not in doubt. His work on Greek and Latin grammar in general and, among individual authors, on Pindar in particular continues to be useful. In addition, he was instrumental in the adoption of the German model of the research seminar for the newly established Johns Hopkins University. Considered by many in his time to be an icon of American classical scholarship, his international reputation enabled him to bring robust studies of the Latin and Greek languages to Johns Hopkins and to the United States as a whole.
Unfortunately, Gildersleeve was also an outspoken racist and supporter of the Confederate rebellion. Some would say that, as such, he was simply a man of his times; but there were very few like him who used their positions as professors of Classics to defend their views to the extent that he did. Gildersleeve tarnished his contributions to the discipline and to the profession by advocating racism, and by abusing his academic credentials to do so. He drew specious connections between the history of the ancient Greeks and Romans and that of the United States, especially during the Civil War period and its aftermath, to support the racist ideology of the Confederacy and the Jim Crow era.
In view of this history, we have a moral imperative to make clear that scholars, institutions such as JHUP, and leading journals like AJP condemn all racism unequivocally. Our intent is not to erase or rewrite history. We take this action because we must stop honoring men such as Gildersleeve, regardless of their considerable professional contributions, as heroes or role models.
By initiating this new beginning for AJP, the journal’s editors and Johns Hopkins University Press are taking an important step in a larger, ongoing effort to ensure that the principles of equality and antidiscrimination are at the heart of the discipline and the profession.