Maroon and Gray
"Maryland, Maryland, home of the maroon and gray ..."
That well-known refrain from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s alma mater proclaims the institution is, indeed, the “home of maroon and gray.”
That was not always the case, however. During the era when UMES was known formally as Princess Anne College (1936-1947), orange and blue were the school colors.
The student newspaper published in the 1940s referred to the “fighting Trojans” of “orange and blue” when describing the feats of our athletic teams and accomplishments of former athletes.
An excerpt* from The College Mirror (Feb. 1942, Vol. 1, No. 2.), the campus newspaper, clearly makes the case:
“Several of our former students are now in the United States Army, but we salute those who fought so heroically for the Blue and Orange of P.A.C. Leroy 'Spike' Bouldin of football, basketball and baseball fame is now stationed at Fort Devens, Mass.”
“Hats off to you my lads, and may you fight as gallantly under ‘Old Glory’ as you did while wearing the Blue and Orange of our beloved P.A.C.”
It must be shocking for Hawk alumni and fans to learn UMES’ first colors were identical to those used by one its fiercest athletic rivals, Morgan State University.
A review of history suggests a plausible explanation.
Prior to 1936, Princess Anne Academy, as it was commonly known since its founding 1886, was considered an industrial-training branch of Morgan College in Baltimore. Morgan's president was responsible for and provided direction to the the instructional leader in Princess Anne.
Oftentimes, following graduation from the Academy many of its students – including future Principal Thomas H. Kiah – furthered their education at Morgan and earned baccalaureate degrees. As a branch of Morgan, it is likely the Academy shared not only a formal structure but traditions as well.
What role Kiah, a Morgan alumnus, might have had in the selection of the school colors is uncertain. But the Academy's oversight by the Baltimore institution suggests the early school colors could have emanated from that connection.
It was not until the John Taylor Williams era of Maryland State College (1947-1970) that the first references to “maroon and gray” emerged. Since the mid-20th century, Hawks everywhere have proudly proclaimed, “Maryland, Maryland, Home of Maroon and Gray!”
-- KIMBERLY CONWAY DUMPSON
- researched by historian Eric A. Jodlbauer, Frederick Douglass Library archives