This profile of Friend Maurice is the first of several that we wish to run on the birthdays of living Friends in our Quakers of Color International Archive (QCIA).
The BlackQuaker Project celebrates the birthday of pioneering Quaker educator and college administrator, Maurice Eldridge. Raised in segregated Washington, DC, Eldridge was one of the first African American male students accepted at Swarthmore College, a Quaker college near Philadelphia, and graduated with a BA in 1962. He would go on to be a passionate teacher who taught English, music, United States history, and creative writing, at schools in both Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. He later received his Masters of Education from the University of Massachusetts in 1976. In 1967 he served as assistant headmaster at the Windsor Mountain School in Lenox, Massachusetts, and would later become principal and director of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, where he would play an integral role in shaping the culture and curriculum of the institution.
Eldridge returned to Swarthmore College in 1989, first as assistant to the vice president before rising to the position of Vice President for College and Community Relations. A leading figure in the community, he also served as Vice Chair for the Chester Fund for Education and the Arts. During this time, he continued his influential involvement in the creative arts, helping to found both the Chester Children’s Chorus and the Chester Charter Scholars Academy. He also worked as an independent art consultant and contributed to various publications, such as Network Bibliography: The Arts High School Library of which he was editor. After a lifelong belief in nonviolence, including becoming a conscientious objector, Eldridge joined the Religious Society of Friends while working at Swarthmore College. He attends Swarthmore Friends Meeting and remains a leading figure in the educational and creative communities which he helped develop. He is currently Assistant Clerk of Swarthmore Monthly Meeting and most recently served as Assistant Clerk of the Pendle Hill Board, and clerk of the search committee that brought about the selection of Pendle Hill’s first Executive Director of color.