July 14, 2017

Moral Monday CT held a forum on Justice, Academic Freedom and White Supremacy to encourage dialogue about recent attacks against scholars whose work centers on anti-oppression, racial and gender justice. Professors Marcano of Trinity College, Hughey of the University of Connecticut, and Sekou of the University of Hartford, along with faith leaders from around Connecticut gathered to discuss the dangerous climate for thought leaders.

“White superiority: It is THE founding lie, the founding myth of America “

–  Professor Donna-Dale Marcano of Trinity College

In Connecticut, a firestorm centered around Professor Johnny Eric Williams of Trinity College.  He spoke his truth pertaining to white supremacy and “anti-blackness.”  As of today, Trinity’s investigation has cleared Professor Williams of any wrongdoing. However, he will not return to campus until January 2018.   We at Moral Monday CT know his work well.  He has come out on the front lines with us as a freedom-fighter.

Nationally, a number of professors facing threats attribute a slate of attacks to slanted coverage of their comments by conservative websites.  Professor Watchlist was launched earlier this year “to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” 

In a supporting statement, Trinity faculty and students said that tactics of intimidation have a chilling effect upon scholarship, “we stand firmly against the efforts of those who seek to target, distort, intimidate, and punish scholars, especially scholars of color. We recognize that opposition to a system of oppression does not constitute hate speech. We refuse to allow advocates of hate speech and violence to define what constitutes academic freedom, free speech, or scholarship.”

The organization “Campus Watch” has launched attacks on progressive scholars. The right-wing sources cited in their work are supported by a small, core group of right-wing funders. The majority of the conservative thought leaders who generate “talking points” and position papers used by TV pundits and radio talk show hosts are directly funded by, or work for organizations supported by this same group of funders.

Is #ThinkingWhileBlack dangerous? Consider recent events…

  • In May 2015, then incoming Professor Grundy tweeted about white college males. Her department was broken into and facilities defaced. She was branded “anti-white,” faced calls to be fired and her life was threatened.
  • In June 2015 Professor Z. Robinson tweeted statements about whiteness and the confederate flag. She was publicly defamed and her life was threatened.
  • In May 2017 Professor T. J. Curry was attacked after pieces from a lecture on violent opposition to white supremacy went viral. His life and job were threatened.
  • Also in May 2017, Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor gave a commencement speech at Hampshire College in which she critiqued the president. Her life and employment were threatened.

Notice a pattern? We stand in solidarity with our freedom-fighting brother, Johnny Eric Williams. #LetJohnnyTeach!