An employee of prestigious Yale University purposely broke an antique, stained-glass window in one of the residential colleges on the New Haven CT campus, ostensibly because of its purported racist imagery. Using a broomstick, dishwasher Corey Menafee knocked out a panel of glass from the window in Calhoun College’s dining hall.
Menafee claimed that he no longer wanted to see an image depicting slaves toting bales of cotton, describing what he saw as “racist, very degrading.”
According to Yale University, Menafee faces both felony and misdemeanor charges for what he considers an act of “civil disobedience.” He did express regret for his actions. When he shattered the glass, shards fell near a pedestrian who was passing by, who was unhurt.
“I just said, ‘That thing’s coming down today. I’m tired of it,’” he told local media. “I put myself in a position to do it, and did it.” Before police arrived to take him away in cuffs, Menafee said, “I just went to the bathroom and shaved, to make sure I was clean-shaven for the authorities.” In his defense, Menafee said “I didn’t commit any acts of violence against anyone or any living thing,” Menafee said. “I didn’t be belligerent, or yell. I just broke the windows.” He will face a court today. A petition is circulating to have the charges against him dropped.
Menafee apologized for his behavior and has resigned his position. Yale University said that despite the damage he caused, the institution is not seeking restitution.
In early July, Calhoun College head, Julia Adams, announced that the dining hall will henceforth serve to memorialize “Roosevelt L. Thompson:” a Yalie from Arkansas who tragically died in his last year at Yale.
A reflection on the life of Roosevelt Thompson
A Yale worker was tired of seeing this indefensible, racist stained glass window at Calhoun College and smashed it. pic.twitter.com/N7V4EUzHNP
Members of university’s Committee on Art in Public Spaces have since announced that the window, which shows two slaves picking cotton and also depicts famed alumnus Senator John C. Calhoun, will be replaced. Three portraits of Calhoun, an 19th century politician who served as Vice President and a well-known defender of slavery, have been removed from Calhoun College. The name of the college, however, will remain the same despite widespread denunciations and student petitions.