It’s hard being Black in America for many, as recent events have shown: from dubious killings of Black men to outright racist behavior and displays of white supremacy and privilege. For one dishwasher at prestigious Yale University, he had enough of a racist stained glass window.
According to Corey Menafee, everyday he had to look at a window that shows slaves balancing baskets of cotton on their heads. Menafee worked at Yale’s Calhoun residential college dining hall. The dining hall is named after the seventh Vice President of the United States, John C Calhoun, who was a slaveholder and supporter. On June 15, 2016, Menafee and other Black workers were at an event where talk soon turned to the stained glass window. At some point, he took a ladder and smashed the window with a broomstick. Some shards of glass struck a passerby. Menafee stated in a recent interview, “It’s 2016, I shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that… I just said, ‘That thing’s coming down today. I’m tired of it. I put myself in a position to do it, and did it.”
Menafee was arrested and charged with a second-degree misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment and a first-degree felony charge of criminal mischief. His arrest caused a swell of support from students who demanded name changes on buildings and the removal of artwork at buildings. One graduate posted the following on Twitter:
This week, Yale Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor issued a statement that reads in part:
“An incident occurred at Calhoun College, a residential college on the campus of Yale University, in which a stained glass window was broken by an employee of Yale, resulting in glass falling onto the street and onto a passerby, endangering [her] safety. The employee apologized for his actions and subsequently resigned from the University. The University will not advocate that the employee be prosecuted in connection with this incident and is not seeking restitution.”
It will now be up to prosecutors to decide whether to drop charges against Menafee. He is facing one to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5K for criminal mischief. On the charge of reckless endangerment, he faces up to two years and fines up to $1K. An online petition has garnered 3,900 signatures asking for all charges to be dropped. Menafee is a father of two and is a graduate of Virginia Union University.