Summary of ACL and JCL Statements on Diversity and Inclusion

On April 9, 2021, NJCL sent this statement in an email to all JCL sponsors:

“The National Junior Classical League Committee and Officers denounce the appropriation of classical civilization to justify racism, slavery, white supremacy, and racially motivated hate. Our goal is and has always been to ensure that the study of the ancient world is an engaging and rewarding experience for students. However, we do acknowledge that the NJCL has not always lived up to this goal and are working towards making necessary changes to our governing documents, materials, and general practices. In addition, we will prioritize diversifying our organization and field, as well as educating our members about the role that classics has played in justifying condemnable actions. We pledge to engage in this greater conversation going forward, listen to the voices of stakeholders, and continually evaluate our actions. We will also continue to promote the study of Greek and Latin, as well as cultivate within our members a love of learning about ancient art, cultures, etymology, history, and mythology.”

On June 3, 2020, ACL released this statement:

“The American Classical League, along with the National Junior Classical League, Excellence Through Classics, and its other committees (including the National Latin Exam), stands in solidarity with communities of color, especially those across our own nation who now suffer, and condemns oppression and racism in all forms.

Black lives matter. Our only path forward is one of unity and equality, walking in solidarity with our members, our students, their families, and all black, indigenous, and people of color.

While the study of ancient Latin and Greek literature, language, arts, and culture enables a greater appreciation for humanity, it also showcases the pain and suffering of oppressed people throughout the classical and modern worlds. With a deep desire to fight oppression in all forms, ACL reaffirms its commitment to social justice in the classroom, in the country, and beyond.”

On November 26, 2019, NJCL released this statement:

“Recently, conversations on social media have raised questions about the practice of holding slave auctions or Rent-a-Roman events. ACL and NJCL acknowledge the insensitive and culturally offensive nature of this activity. In June of 2010, the NJCL National Committee voted to eliminate the Rent-a-Roman activity from the NJCL Convention.

NJCL instructs all state and local chapters to cease any activity, by any name, which represents any sort of sale of a person. This activity does not represent the values of JCL. Any chapters still conducting such an activity must immediately find alternative activities. Any event or activity which demeans the inherent dignity of another person or mimics the institution of slavery is unacceptable.

ACL, along with JCL, reaffirms its Oct. 31, 2019 statement, which reads “One of the activities NJCL offered in the past during the Day in Old Rome was Rent-A-Roman. NJCL recognized the resemblance of this activity to Roman slave auctions and has not offered this activity for a long time. NJCL unequivocally states that our organization condemns any actions, reenactment, and/or activities that advocate or imitate slavery or any form of human rights violation.”

For questions or concerns, contact Catherine Sturgill, NJCL Committee Chair,, or Sherwin Little, Executive Director,”

On October 31, 2019, ACL/NJCL released this statement:

“The American Classical League Board of Governors has authorized the release of the following statement to reaffirm its commitment to make sure the organization is welcoming to all. 


The American Classical League (ACL)  has started the process of examining its policies, procedures, and products to enhance its commitment to multiculturalism, equity, and inclusion. All divisions of ACL will participate in this project including the National Junior Classical League (NJCL), Excellence Through Classics (ETC), and the National Latin Exam (NLE)

This project began in the summer of 2019 when ACL hired a diversity consultant, Shannon Sullivan of The Groundswell Alliance, who has begun background work to understand our organization’s mission, structure, and varied activities. In addition to the ACL’s Board of Governors, the leadership of NJCL, ETC, and NLE will receive training starting at the end of 2019 and continuing through April 2020. The leadership is committed to learning about the many facets of these important topics so that they can make informed decisions. 

The topics that the project will address include:

  • Diversity and equity training for the leadership of ACL, NJCL, ETC, and NLE.
  • ​Review of current materials and products.
  • ​Protocol and guidelines for evaluating new materials and products.
  • Determining what questions to ask in order to understand the current status in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the organization.
  • The collection of data via membership forms, the NLE, and student exams with assessment and publication of the data. 
  • Assurance that any data collection is done legally, ethically, and with a strict concern for member privacy.

Because of the timeframes laid out by the ACL and NJCL Constitutions, some changes will not be able to be made until the summer of 2020 and beyond.  As one example, the NJCL Executive Board has authorized the NJCL Parliamentarian to draft a Constitutional amendment to replace gender-specific language. The Executive Board will discuss the amendment and vote whether to refer the amendment to the membership for approval in July 2020. The wording of the NJCL song and creed was examined by the Board, and recommendations will be put to the membership in July 2020. As membership organizations, ACL and NJCL will determine the best methods for gathering member input. 

ACL is committed to advancing multiculturalism, equity, and inclusion across the organization. The core values of Inspiration, Community, Professionalism, Inclusion and Responsiveness will continue to guide the work. 

One of the activities NJCL offered in the past during the Day in Old Rome was Rent-A-Roman. NJCL recognized the resemblance of this activity to Roman slave auctions and has not offered this activity for a long time. NJCL unequivocally states that our organization condemns any actions, reenactment, and/or activities that advocates or imitates slavery or any form of human rights violation. 
ACL will continue the process of examining our products, practices and policies, with the expertise of our consultant, and will make changes as warranted.”

In 2016, following an incident at Illinois JCL state convention where a mock slave auction was held, NJCL issued this statement:

“The National Junior Classical League along with its parent organization the American Classical League regret to hear of the incident which took place this weekend at the Illinois Junior Classical League Convention. We echo the apologies issued by the Illinois JCL as well as the sponsor, the students, and the school district involved. This incident in no way reflects the values we have as an organization which seeks to promote the study of Latin, Classics, and the Ancient World. The NJCL is predicated upon the values of brotherhood, friendship, scholarship, and inclusion. We deeply apologize for the hurt this incident has caused.”