Lisa Durden, a former adjunct professor at Essex County College in New Jersey, has been fired after appearing on Fox News to defend a Black Lives Matter event in which only black people were invited.
On Friday, it was announced that Durden would be let go from her position after she engaged in a heated argument on the June 6 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News. While discussing an “all-black Memorial Day celebration” hosted by a Black Lives Matter group, Durden told Carlson, “you white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white privilege card” to attend the event.
Durden, who taught communications and pop culture classes according to the Newark Star-Ledger, also called America a “racist society.”
“The college 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,” newly appointed Essex County College President Anthony Munroe said in a statement, according to NJ.com.
“I fully believe that institutions of higher learning must provide a safe space for students… The character of this institution mandates that we embrace diversity, inclusion, and unity. Racism cannot be fought with more racism.”
Munroe said the school suspended her with pay for six working days and fired her after a public meeting at which Durden addressed the school’s board on June 20.
“The college affirms its right to select employees who represent the institution appropriately and are aligned with our mission,” Munroe said, while noting it “supports and affirms the right of free speech and independent views and expressions of those views for our faculty and staff.”
Durden, who did not mention Essex during her appearance on Fox News, told NJ.com that she was abruptly suspended and only learned that she had to cancel class when she arrived on campus on June 8.
“They did this to humiliate me,” she said. “Essex County College publicly lynched me in front of my students.”
Following her firing, Durden told NJ.com that she has received support from faculty and students. She said she thought living in a “black and brown city” and working for a “black and brown college” would create a “safe space” for her to share her viewpoints.
“It should be a safe place for me,” she said. “I thought when I came home from war, I would be safe.” Instead, “I was fired.”