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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The petition for the rectification of the mistreatment surrounding myself, Timothy McNair Jr., being barred from class by Professor Donald Nally has begun and is continuing to request you all's sincere attention and involvement with correcting a wrong done to me in the form of being banned from a class that all A's were previously made in and concert work completed in the quarter (Spring) that Donald Nally failed me in. An 'F' is not characteristic of a student who has made all A's in the said class nor of one who had completed work in the quarter of assigned failure. An arbitrary barring/banning by a professor, not listed in the student handbook as his right to do, goes against an academic environment of inclusion and scholarly research. Standing behind me are many who are appalled by my mistreatment and the lack of attention given to the situation by a university with an already fickle history of addressing recent racist events. These individuals and groups are further appalled by the lack of response given to the NAACP by the President and university officials. To forward a letter, sent to the President, to the Dean and to evade questions not of private student affairs is disrespectful and not characteristic of adults who should be encouraging a better world for students across all demographics. This is not a good reflection on Northwestern University, just as the lack of initial response for Michael Collins was not a good reflection. Hopefully, this will be corrected soon as the petition has reached the international audience of Australia and back to Chicago. It is my wish that civil and appropriate action be taken swiftly to correct an injustice. To quote a most recent, important petition signed by faculty at Northwestern, the lack of appropriate attention given by administration to this situation "seems reflective of age-old tropes through which Black males, in particular, are demonized as irrational and volatile, and as part of a grander effort to criminalize and silence astute critiques of power." The petitioners are representative of thousands,at this point, who are aware of the matter and standing with me in solidarity. As media attention has gathered, it will only continue to. At this point, there is professional coverage from within the higher education realm and these persons are interested in this event and how it is being handled. It would be my hope to be able to say that Northwestern's administration intervened and corrected an issue of mistreatment and racism. Thank you for your time and let's work for a better Northwestern.