Black Yale Worker Shatters 'Racist' Panel, Loses Job

Stained-glass panel in Calhoun dining hall showed slaves carrying bales of cotton
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2016 10:30 AM CDT
Black Yale Worker Shatters 'Racist' Panel, Loses Job
Menafee says he was never a threat to students at Yale.   (Shutterstock)

"It's 2016, I shouldn't have to come to work and see things like that." That's the explanation offered by Corey Menafee, a black dishwasher at a Yale dining hall who lost his job for destroying a stained-glass panel he tells the New Haven Independent was "racist" and "degrading." The panel in question (see it here) had been located in the university's Calhoun College—named for 19th-century US VP and slavery advocate John Calhoun—and showed two slaves carrying cotton in baskets. Menafee was on cleanup duty on June 13 when he decided enough was enough: The 38-year-old took the broom he was using and shattered the panel. In a statement to Gawker, Yale says Menafee resigned from his job after the incident, in which falling glass "[endangered] the safety" of a passerby.

The statement notes Menafee won't have to pay for the panel, and though he was arrested by New Haven police and faced a felony charge of criminal mischief, Yale won't pursue charges against him. But while Menafee says "it wasn't my property, and I had no right to do it," he says he lost his job because he was determined to be a threat to students, a claim he refutes. "I didn't commit any acts of violence against anyone or any living thing," he tells the Independent. "I just broke the windows." The incident isn't the first involving Calhoun's legacy and how he's showcased at Yale: Students circulated a petition last year to get the Calhoun name scrubbed from the college and to dump any slavery-themed decor, but Yale President Peter Salovey said in April the name stays. (More Yale University stories.)

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