TV Commentator and Educator Lisa Durden Wants Reinstated at Essex County College

Jun 30, 2017

Television personality and adjunct professor Lisa Durden at the WBGO studios with WBGO Media Fellow Al Antomattei
Credit Doug Doyle for WBGO

Television personality, pop culture commentator and adjunct professor Lisa Durden was recently fired by Essex County College after an appearance on Fox News' Tucker Carlson show.

WBGO Media Fellow Al Antomattei invited Durden to come into WBGO to talk about her case. 

Durden says she was unfairly dismissed and that she never associated herself with Essex County College when she was defending a Black Lives Matter event that was held for only people of color.

Durden, who has been a regular commentator on various television shows, told Fox host Tucker Carlson on June 6th show:

"You white people are angry because you couldn't use your white privilege card to get invited to the Black Lives Matter's all black Memorial Day Celebration."

Newly appointed Essex County College President Anthony Munroe issued a statement late last week saying the college received complaints about Durden's Fox appearance.

During the interview for the WBGO Journal, Durden talked about what happened the days following the television appearance:

"I went to school on the 7th and went into the building and went to work.  I was teaching an effective speech class and I went to work, worked normally.  Day two after the Tucker Carlson show, that's when I walked into the building I was walked to my classroom.... and then marched me up to HR and that's when I was told I was suspended.  I was offered no reason....I was ambushed by Essex County College not Fox....I was given zero due process."

Durden says Essex County College was well aware of past her television appearances:

"They hired me because of that.  Essex County College has an experience with me for about 15 years, before I worked there as a person who has always been invited to sit on panels before I was a professor there to talk about media to the students.  I've given workshops there over the last 15 years.  All this is gratis.  They loved Lisa Durden when I was giving it away....I was also asked many times to come and speak in mass communication classes.  I've even been honored by Essex County College.  So I was punished for the free speech."

What's the next step for Durden?

"The whole goal is to reinstate me in the college, that's my immediate goal."

In his statement, President Anthony Munroe says as the new president, he thinks it is important to make clear and reaffirm the College’s commitment, as a public institution, to maintaining a welcoming environment to all students, from a variety of races, lifestyles, abilities, socio-economic backgrounds, faiths and culture.

In Munroe's statement, he says he fully believes that institutions of higher learning must provide a safe space for students to explore, discuss and debate. He says the character of Essex County College mandates that it embraces diversity, inclusion and unity. Munroe says "racism cannot be fought with more racism."

The statement also says "the College supports and affirms the right of free speech and independent views and expressions of those views for their faculty and staff. The president says his administration has a duty to set a strong example of tolerance, and accordingly, free speech and academic freedom must always work in the service of the student body."

The entire statement from President Munroe is available at www.essex.edu.

You can hear the entire interview with Lisa Durden by clicking at the top of this post.