(Updated June 27, 2017) Essex County College professor Lisa Durden was indefinitely suspended two days after a fiery and belligerent appearance on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, but the school’s president now reports she was fired after speaking at a public meeting on June 20 with school officials.
College President Anthony Munroe stated Monday that he was immediately inundated with complaints following her appearance on Fox News and described it as a “contentious and divisive issue” in a video statement.
“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 said in the statement.
Durden and her supporters, however, describe her predicament as “a rape survivor being blamed for the assault,” according to NJ.com Friday. She maintains the firing was unjust and baseless with no due process and no facts.
On Tucker Carlson’s June 6 program, Durden launched a fierce defense of a black-only Black Lives Matter Memorial Day party restricting whites from attending based solely on their skin color. Carlson challenged her position, asking why it’s okay to exclude people based on their race.
“I thought the whole point of Black Lives Matter, or one of the points, would be to speak out against singling people out on the basis of their race and punishing them for that because you can’t control what your race is, and yet they seem to be doing that. Explain that to me,” Carlson said.
“What I say to that is boo hoo hoo you white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white privilege card to get invited to the Black Lives Matters, all black, Memorial Day celebration,” Durden answered derisively, cutting off Carlson.
She then went off on a tirade, which she called “contextualizing,” on the creation of Memorial Day and declaring they held a black-only celebration “to honor black folks and make sure black folks are being celebrated for being murdered by racist terrorists.”
“I’m not gonna let you filibuster past my question,” Carlson warned. “I don’t want to shut this down… I don’t want to shut this down but I will.”
After a few seconds of killing her mike, he asked his question again.
“White folks crack me up,” Durden barked. “All of a sudden, when we want one day for black folks to focus on ourselves, but you’ve been having white days forever. You don’t say the words anymore because you know it’s politically incorrect.”
In the exchange, Carlson didn’t mince his words and at one point called her “hostile and separatist and crazy.”
“You’re demented actually,” Carlson told her. “You’re sick and what you’re saying is disgusting and if you were a Nazi I would say the same thing to you.”
Upon arriving to class for the summer session on June 8, Durden was instructed to cancel her classes and report to the human resources department where she received a letter from the vice president of academic affairs informing her she was suspended until further notice.
Although the letter did not mention her appearance on Fox News, it was brought up immediately afterward in a meeting with the HR department. Durden was told someone complained that she associated herself with the college on the show.
Durden nor her supporters saw anything wrong with her performance, deny she associated herself with the college, and point to previous programs she’s joined as a commentator without incident. Her attorney, Leslie Farber, thinks the school has “some other agenda.”
“It seems to me they’re going to make up some reason. We’ve got to figure out what that is and why. Is she too outspoken?” Farber commented.
Farber was “read” a three-sentence statement over the phone when contacting the school for information on her client’s dismissal: “The college promotes a community of unity that is inclusive of all. The general counsel has handled this matter in a way that complies with New Jersey state law. I am not at liberty to provide further details.”
“They did this to humiliate me,” Durden told The Star-Ledger. “Essex County College publicly lynched me in front of my students.”
Durden wants her job back and argues her right to free speech has been assaulted. Her colleagues agree and have started an online Change.org petition demanding she be reinstated.
“I find it shocking that an African-American woman would be so disrespected at her place of employment for merely exercising her First Amendment right to free speech,” Professor Jennifer Wager stated in Durden’s defense.