November 19, 2015
Harvard Black Law Students Association (HBLSA) Condemns Defacing of Black Faculty Portraits
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – The Harvard Black Law Students Association (HBLSA) condemns today’s defacing of Black faculty portraits at Harvard Law School.
Today’s act is part of a larger pattern of racial antagonism at the Law School and schools across the nation. This event demonstrates that even at our nation’s most prestigious institutions, students, faculty, and staff of color are not immune to racial injustices. These injustices take the form of microaggressions, racially hostile learning environments, a delegitimization of Black voices and opinions, and a legacy of racism embodied in the crests of many institutions of higher learning in this country.
Today’s act of vandalism, motivated by racial animus, is not an isolated incident at Harvard Law School. “HBLSA is committed to fighting against racism, bigotry, and ignorance at our institution. However, it should not be our fight alone. We call on faculty and administrators to seriously consider the concerns and frustrations that students have repeatedly brought to their attention,” said Leland Shelton, President of the Harvard Black Law Students Association.
After students pressured both the Dean of Students and the Dean of the Law School, the administration opened a previously scheduled faculty meeting to students and staff to provide a forum for community-wide discussion. During the meeting, Martha Minow, the Dean of the Law School, acknowledged that racism is an ongoing problem in America and at Harvard. HBLSA considers the meeting to be a starting point, not a resolution, and will remain actively engaged with the administration, faculty, staff, student organizations, and alumni to implement concrete institutional change.
Shelton adds, “recent events at the University of Missouri, Yale, and campuses across the country remind us that racism persists and encourages us to continue to fight with a sense of urgency for meaningful change in our institutions and in our country.”
Leland Shelton, President, Harvard Black Law Students Association