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Students at Harvard Law

Vandalized Portraits Of Black Professors At Harvard


Weeks after intense protests at the University of Missouri and Yale University, police are investigating an alleged hate crime at Harvard Law School. On Thursday morning, students were greeted by black tape across the portraits of black faculty members in Wasserstein Hall. The vandalism spurred a police investigation and a statement from Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow that the school has a “serious problem” with racism.

While many students expressed outrage (rightfully so), law professor, Charles Ogletree, whose portrait was among those defaced, stayed reserved. “We’re just trying to figure out what happened and try to figure why someone targeted black faculty,” Ogletree told the Harvard Crimson.

Student leaders were not so hesitant to voice their disapproval and concern. The President of Harvard Black Law Student Association, Leland Shelton, told the Crimson the act was “actually one of the most clear-cut, overt instances of very, very vile and disrespectful behavior from somebody.”

Later on Thursday, students began placing Post-It notes with words of encouragement around the portraits that were vandalized. Then hundreds of students, faculty, administration and staff took to Milstein Hall East to speak about the racist actions. Some of the participants called out Minow and her leadership, the Crimson reports.

“Racism exists in America and in the United States and in Harvard and in Harvard Law School,” Minow told the Crimson. “I am on record; this is my work. This is what I do.”

To be sure, Minow probably wants to be careful in how she handles the situation. As recent history from the University of Missouri shows, no collegiate administrators are safe from serious allegations of fostering a racist culture.

“For a lot of students, particularly students of color, it’s not surprising. It’s just more public,” law student Derecka Purnell told the Crimson. “It’s a public manifestation of what we experience in the classroom every day.”

Source: The Harvard Crimson