Dear Friends of Hilton,
In 1981, five years after the momentous events of 16 June 1976, the first black student was enrolled at Hilton College. Over the succeeding years, Hilton has welcomed many hundreds more Hiltonians of colour who were able at last to enjoy an educational experience which had been denied to their parents and grandparents.
Our current Hiltonians will attest to the significantly changed demographic among their peers, alongside a growing diversity in staff. But on this Youth Day in the year 2020, we recognise as an institution that there are Old Hiltonians who did not have the benefit of this experience. Some of them lived through the perverse reality that was Apartheid. Others have experienced prejudice and a sense of not belonging at Hilton after Apartheid ended. We are deeply sorry for your hurt and disappointment.
Today’s Hilton endeavours to prioritise diversity in every aspect of our school. To this end, we established Transformation Committees for both boys and staff three years ago.
We are encouraged that the spirit of 1976 lives on amongst our current boys. Motheo Makwana and his 2020 Committee arranged and hosted ‘Hard Talks’ on our campus in the first term, tackling uncomfortable topics in a mature and productive manner. This week they have set up a website (www.ourhardtalk.com) to continue the interaction and discussion. Open forums like this are often uncomfortable but there is also the potential for healing and for meaningful and lasting change that we can all be part of, and all be proud of.
As Old Hiltonians, parents, staff and current boys of Hilton, your voice in our journey is essential. Let us move forward in constructing an inclusive, exciting future for each and every boy. We welcome those who have voiced their concerns around matters of discrimination and concerns about our diversity, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. We thank you, too, for the manner in which you have raised your concerns.
The struggle for lasting change did not end on 16 June 1976. It continued thereafter and continues now in a determined manner. There is much work that still needs to be done. On this Youth Day, it is fitting to state as the leadership of Hilton College, that we commit to an ongoing resolve to embrace diversity in all its richness at every opportunity.
Our vision of a non-racial school on African soil is rooted in Hilton’s proud history of excellence and resilience through the 147 years of its existence. It is our intention that this continues in a way which is far more inclusive and makes all Hiltonians proud of their school.