A black New Jersey community college professor was fired after she appeared on Fox News to defend a black-only Memorial Day Celebration in New York City.
The event was advertised as an “unapologetically black space,” which naturally caused a firestorm in conservative media. This led Lisa Durden, a political commentator who was an adjunct professor at Essex County College in Newark, to appear on Fox News to discuss the controversy.
“Boo-hoo-hoo,” Durden said sarcastically in the June 6 interview with Tucker Carlson. “You white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white privilege card to get invited to the Black Lives Matter all-black Memorial Day celebration.”
The exchange quickly turned heated, with Carlson, a man clearly capable of making and breaking careers, going on to call Durden “hostile and separatist and crazy.”
“You’re demented actually,” Carlson said. “You’re sick and what you’re saying is disgusting and if you were a Nazi I would say the same thing to you.”
Two days after the interview, the school suspended Durden, who taught courses on mass communication and culture, from her teaching duties with pay, although only about a week remained in the summer school session. Two weeks later, Durden was fired from Essex, a campus that is federally designated as a “Predominantly Black and Hispanic Serving Institution.”
In an interview with The Washington Post after her removal, Durden didn’t mince words. “I was publicly lynched,” she said. “They didn’t let me finish the class and they disrupted the learning process. I had a right to free speech, and I exercised that right.”
In a lengthy statement—posted in text and video form on Friday—Essex County College President Anthony Munroe said the school was “immediately inundated with feedback from students, faculty and prospective students and their families expressing frustration, concern and even fear that the views expressed by a College employee (with influence over students) would negatively impact their experience on the campus.”
“In consideration of the College’s mission, and the impact that this matter has had on the College’s fulfillment of its mission, we cannot maintain an employment relationship with the adjunct,” Munroe, who is also black, said in the statement.
Leslie Farber, Durden’s attorney, confirmed to NJ.com that her client is considering legal action against her former employer.
“I believe their first suspending and then firing her was directly because of her appearing on the Tucker Carlson TV show, and is a violation of her federal and state constitutional rights to free speech,” Farber said.