Fr. Alan Tarlton, 80, is the Abbey’s only African American monk. He was not always alone.
When Tarlton was ordained in 1955, there were four other African Americans priests, but, eventually, the abbey sent them off to do missionary work in the Bahamas, Kentucky and Indianapolis — leaving Tarlton to work as a prep-school English teacher and FR in Benet Hall alone, as the University’s sole African American educator for years.
Alone on campus in race, Tarlton says he tried to conform in the early years.
“For a long time I think I tried to be as white as I possibly could,” Tarlton said. “I would never say I was black.”
“When we had watermelon in the dining room I didn’t eat it. I loved watermelon, but I didn’t want to be identiﬁed with it.”