Well, it was a typical workday. I was performing my normal duties, cleaning and scrubbing. And we had our little 10-minute break. And I don’t know, something inside me said, you know, that thing has to come down. You know, it’s a picture… it was a picture that just… as soon as you look at it, it just hurts. You feel it in your heart. Like, oh man. Like here in the 21st century, you know, we’re in a modern era where we shouldn’t have to be subjected to those primitive and degrading images.
The stained glass was a small piece of glass that was no bigger than a tablet. It depicted a male and a female, both appearing to be African-American, standing in a field of white crops, what appear to be cotton, with baskets over their heads. And I believe one of the figures were actually smiling, which is like so condescending, because looking back on slavery, like, it wasn’t a happy time for African Americans.
Over the last year I firsthand got to see how it was affecting the students and how the students felt about the name John Calhoun being donned on their college. And everything he represented is just… is such a contradiction for what Yale University represents, because Yale University’s motto is Lux et Veritas, which is Latin for ‘Truth Through Enlightenment.’ So, if you’re an institution of higher learning where you’re trying to enlighten young people and train them to be productive members of society, why would you have a degrading image like that blatantly displayed?
COREY MENAFEE describes why he smashed a stained glass image depicting smiling slaves picking cotton at Yale’s Calhoun College