Lisa Durden, an adjunct professor of communications at Essex County College in New Jersey, was fired after remarks made to Tucker Carlson on Fox News defending a Memorial Day party hosted by a New York chapter of Black Lives Matter and intended for “blacks-only.” According to the Philly Voice, Durden, a woman of color and a supporter of Black Lives Matter, said that attendees just wanted “one day for black folks to focus on ourselves.”
“You white people are angry because you couldn’t use your ‘white privilege’ card to get invited to Black Lives Matter’s all-black Memorial Day celebration. Wow. You’ve been having ‘White Day’ forever.”
Carlson responded that Durden’s remarks were “hostile, separatist and crazy.”
Durden never identified herself as associated with the college during the interview.
Following the interview, college president Anthony Munroe reported that he was inundated with calls from current and prospective students and their families. He said that when his administration received an “outpouring of concern” over her remarks, it was their responsibility to act, and suspended Durden with pay two days after the show aired. She had to cancel her classes abruptly with no explanation and claimed that the school arranged it deliberately to “humiliate” her in front of her students. Her suspension letter made no mention of her appearance with Tucker Carlson.
She said, however, that it was brought up earlier that day in a meeting with college vice president Jeffrey Lee and assistant director of Human Resources Karen Bridgett. According to Durden, Bridgett told her that somebody complained about her associating herself with the school during the interview. Durden said that she didn’t, and that she could prove it. Regardless, she was suspended pending investigation.
On June 20, three days after she addressed the school board regarding the incident at a public meeting, she was fired.
Monroe explained that Durden was fired because the school “embrace[s] diversity, inclusion, and unity,” and that he considered Durden’s remarks to be racist.
Durden, meanwhile, according to the Philly Inquirer, called her firing a lynching and said that she felt like a rape victim being blamed for what happened to her. She also said that, contrary to Monroe’s assertions, she had received an outpouring of support from students and faculty members.
— Lisa Durden (@Lisardurden) June 23, 2017
Her attorney, Leslie Farber, said that she believes Durden’s free speech rights were violated and is pursuing legal action against the college. Lee responded that the school had “handled this matter in a way that complies” with state law. Farber says that they can’t legally prevent their employees from speaking out.
Durden was a frequent guest on Fox News, appearing on The Kelly Files, Fox & Friends, and more, typically in defense of the Black Lives Matter movement. She is considered a Fox News contributor and has appeared on a number of other networks and online broadcasts, including her own online talk show.
In the meantime, both Durden and Fox News have remained quiet on the subject of her firing.
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]