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A dishwasher at Yale used a broomstick to smash a stained glass window of slaves picking cotton

Reuters/Shannon Stapleto
A matter of history.
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Earlier this year Yale University considered changing the name of its Calhoun College, named after John C. Calhoun, a slaveholder and advocate for white supremacy, in a bid to address its discriminatory history. Instead it decided to keep the name as a reminder of a disturbing element of Yale’s history.

Maybe that was a mistake. Calhoun once again became the center of a controversy last month after Corey Menafee, a black American who had been working as a dishwasher at Yale’s Calhoun College since 2007, used a broomstick to smash one of the dining hall’s stained glass windows depicting black slaves carrying cotton. At the time Menafee said he was offended by the “racist, very demeaning” connotation of the representation. “It’s 2016, I shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that,” Menafee told the New Haven Independent.

Yesterday (July 12), Menafee, who resigned from his job, appeared in court on misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and a felony charge of criminal mischief.  His lawyer, Patricia Kane, said in an interview that she received confirmation today (July 13) from David Strollo, the prosecutor, that charges will be dropped at the next hearing, scheduled for July 26.

The incident has caused Yale to reconsider whether the hall decorations were appropriate, and the university decided to remove several other panels, replacing them temporarily with tinted glass while deciding on new designs, “with input from the Yale community, including students.”

Quartz has contacted Yale University for comment and will add relevant updates to this article.

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