Students at a North Carolina university are demanding, with petitions and protest marches, the expulsion of a white classmate who used the N-word on Facebook.
Morgan Kendall, a third-year law student at North Carolina Central University, a historically black school in Durham, recently wrote the N-word in response to a Facebook comment that also used the N-word during a discussion about violence against black people, reported Raleigh local news station WRAL. “But that [N-word] can still vote, drive, and go to school, right? Not racism,” Kendall wrote.
When someone questioned why Kendall used the slur, she responded, “Why can one person type [N-word] and another not?” Separately, under an ABC news report on suspicious packages that were sent to the Clinton and Obama families, Kendall wrote, “Wish I could take credit” for the mailings.
Students told WRAL that Kendall’s presence makes them feel unsafe, and they would like to see her expelled.
On Monday, the university sent Yahoo Lifestyle a statement from chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye, which stated, “North Carolina Central University immediately followed safety protocols, which determined that there was no imminent threat to the campus, nor students.”
A petition called “Demand for Immediate Dismissal of Morgan Kendall from NCCU School of Law,” which has nearly reached its goal of 1,000 signatures, claims, “Kendall has a history of making similar remarks on Facebook.” The petition calls for Kendall’s expulsion, increased security on campus, and a public denunciation from the university and its law school of the student’s “domestic terrorism.”
According to WRAL, on Thursday, students met with Judge Elaine O’Neal, dean of NCCU’s school of law, and campus police chief Fred Hammett. A student told the news station that Kendall was banned from class last week but was allowed to return on Monday.
The school of law’s Black Law Students Association also posted a statement that read: “As a result of her actions, allowing Kendall to remain at our school would be a disservice to the safety of students and the comfort of our learning environment.” A representative of the association did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
On Monday, Preston Mitchum, chair of the Washington Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and a 2011 NCCU alumnus, tweeted an announcement for a campus protest march and a letter addressed to Dean O’Neal co-signed by himself and 175 other alumni, asking that Kendall be expelled “for racist remarks and endorsement of domestic terrorism.”
The letter explains that Kendall’s actions violate the founding principles of the university’s law school, created in 1939 by House Bill 18, which gave African-American students the opportunity to study law in North Carolina. “It would be in direct contradiction to allow Ms. Kendall to remain a student while she creates unsafe environments for the same students who are the sole purpose of the school’s creation” asserts the letter.
The missive also distinguishes between free speech and “…harmful language toward people of color [that] ultimately creates a culture where white violence is more tolerable.” And it shares the concern that if Kendall were to practice law, she might not fairly represent people of color, immigrants, or Muslims, “those who often need the most access to the judicial system.”
In 24 hours, myself and 175 alumni of North Carolina Central University School of Law signed onto a comprehensive letter demanding that the Administration immediately dismiss third-year law student #MorganKendall for racism. Current students are planning a march for 3pm TODAY!
Mitchum, who initially heard about the Facebook posts from worried university staff, says in light of the killings at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue and the Kroger supermarket in Jeffersontown, Ky., Kendall’s remarks can’t be ignored. “It’s scary to know there is a student who doesn’t appreciate or understand the history of the school,” Mitchum tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It makes you wonder why she attends a historically black law school.”
The activist also says many are frustrated by the school’s lack of public condemnation, even during an active investigation.
According to WRAL, protestors marched from the law school to the campus administrative building. “This particular [historically black university] has charged itself with putting out socially responsible attorneys,” one student told the station. “That’s in the school’s mission. This is not what’s happening. She is not a socially responsible person.”
Kendall did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
Photo Credit: Begin College