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Justice for Timothy McNair

The idea that a white professor, Donald Nally, would even begin to entertain the notion of barring a 3.7 plus GPA, full scholarship student of color from class in 2013 is not something that we are accepting.
Timothy McNair is a full merit scholarship, second year Master of Music-Voice candidate at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music who refused to perform a piece for his class due to it having lyrics written by Walt Whitman. McNair expressed his discomfort with performing the song due to Whitman's blatant disregard and disrespect for African-Americans and the fact that such a performance does not provide honest, academic visibility on the true thoughts of Walt Whitman and what his idea of a democracy was/was not. The professor, Donald Nally, dismissed his concern with little to no dialogue and gave him an ultimatum: perform the song or fail the class.
Timothy McNair serves on the Executive Board of the Black Graduate Student Association and was recently appointed to the University Diversity Council by the Associate Provost of Diversity and Inclusion. Donald Nally’s choice to ban a straight-A Black student from class in 2013 because of factually based scrutiny is institutional segregation and suppression akin to Jim Crow. Donald Nally’s choice to fail a student who has made all A’s in the same class previously and who has already completed major coursework in the form of a concert in the same quarter sheds light on the discriminatory and oppressive tactics used by disregarding individuals against minorities who wish to confront controversial issues in historically and currently racist institutions.
In our society, there are many men whose histories have included racist contributions to the world the we live in. Timothy should not be punished with a failing grade because of wanting that visibility to be communicated in an academic environment. Everyday we interact with the contributions of those who came before us. Timothy has sought to establish lucidity on the true thoughts of men and women whom we rever. This is not being a bad student, but being a committed scholar. It helps the world to know about Whitman's racist thoughts just like it helps us to know that Richard Wagner wrote books that inspired Nazism. The difference is that we have much research and discussion on Wagner's anti-Semitism as compared to very little research and much ignorance on Whitman's anti-Black contributions in the US. Tell Northwestern University to give Timothy McNair the credit and passing grade for a class that he has made all A's in prior to Spring 2013. Timothy made all A's, again, in Spring quarter except for the 'F' assigned to him by Donald Nally. Let's support Timothy and tell President Morton Schapiro to fully rectify this situation nu-president@northwestern.edu.

This petition was delivered to:
  • President of Northwestern University
    Morton Schapiro
  • Provost
    Daniel Linzer
  • Vice Chair: Board of Trustees Northwestern University
    Philip L. Harris
  • Treasurer of General Funds: Board of Trustees Northwestern University
    Jane DiRenzo Pigott
  • Treasurer of Endowment and Trust Funds: Board of Trustees Northwestern University
    Lee M. Mitchell
  • Dean School of Music
    Toni Marie Montgomery
  • Co-Chair, Department of Music Performance
    Gerardo Ribeiro
  • Co-Chair, Department of Music Performance
    Karen Brunnssen


Timothy McNair started this petition with a single signature, and now has 271 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.