Hundreds of students and faculty members at Columbia University in New York City rallied Wednesday afternoon to protest the hanging of a noose on the office door of a popular African-American professor.
Carrying signs reading, “Down with Racism,” the multiracial group of students, faculty and administrators rallied a day after another faculty member discovered the noose left on the office door of Dr. Madonna Constantine, 44, a professor of psychology and education at Columbia’s Teachers College.
It’s unclear who placed the noose — long associated with lynching and a symbol of racial hatred — on Constantine’s door, and New York police are investigating several scenarios, including the possibility that it was left by another professor who Constantine apparently did not get along with. The hate crimes unit of the police department would not elaborate on any other details.
Constantine, co-author of the book “Addressing Racism: Facilitating Cultural Competence in Mental Health and Educational Settings,” is considered an expert on race relations.
“This is simply unacceptable,” said Matt Johnson, 24, a student at Columbia who attended the rally. “Racism does not have a place on this campus.”
Surrounded by community activists, political leaders and her fellow colleagues, Constantine emerged at the rally to denounce the incident and to thank the college community for their support. She urged them to remain vigilant.
“I would like the perpetuator of this heinous and upsetting incident to know that I will not be silenced,” Constantine said. “I’m upset that our community was exposed to such an unbelievably blatant act of racism. Hanging a noose from my door reeks of cowardice on many, many levels.”
Students and faculty at the Ivy League university praised the administration’s quick response in alerting the college about the incident.
“This is an assault on African-Americans, and, therefore, it is an assault on every one of us,” said Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia. “I know I speak on behalf of every member of our community in condemning this horrible action.”
Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman said in an email to all students and faculty that a series of meetings were scheduled this week to allow members of the Teachers College community to express their concerns.
“The Teachers College community and I deplore this hateful act, which violates every Teachers College and societal norm,” Fuhrman said.
“You would not think that something like this would happen at Columbia,” said Mikayla Graham, a graduate student at Teachers College “But it’s up to us to show the world that we will not stand for this kind of intolerance and prejudice.”
The incident at Columbia is the latest in a series of racially motivated situations across the country where a noose was apparently left for an African-American. A noose set off the racial incidents at Jena High School in Jena, La., last year, and one was displayed following the civil rights march supporters of the Jena Six held last month. Also last month, a noose was discovered hanging outside of the Black cultural affairs center at the University of Maryland, College Park.
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