An African-American professor at Grand Canyon University in Arizona, a private Christian university, was hit with a suspension after he made remarks suggesting activists with Black Lives Matter “should be hung.”
Toby Jennings was speaking on social justice at a faith-based conference last September when he was questioned about his thoughts on the activism of BLM.
“You have folks that participate in it on one side that are very thoughtful about the matter and then on the other side, you have people on the opposite side of that who frankly should be hung,” Jennings responded.
“Yes, I did say that on video. They are saying things that are not helpful to any way, shape or form of human dignity or flourishing,” he added.
“That is not helpful to any conversation. That kind of rhetoric is not helpful to any conversation. And that’s what I mean by they should be hung.”
His response was video-taped and shared on the Internet. Following his suggestion, a collective gasp can be heard on the video. The professor was reportedly given verbal warning by a member of the College of Theology at GCU after the incident but as the video resurfaced and organizations brought complaints to the university, Jennings was suspended.
Local members of BLM and NAACP approached the university and pointed out that his statement was dangerous and incited violence against a group already battling systematic violence.
GCU President Brian Mueller has assured the public that Jennings is suspended for the upcoming semester but believes that the incident should not reflect negatively on GCU.
“Yes, it was wrong, but it is an isolated incident and it does not represent who our faculty is and it does not represent who our students are.”
Investigation into the matter is ongoing, as the university interviews Jennings’ students and attendants of the conference to deepen their understanding of the issue.
“As we continue our investigation, we will interview students who have attended this professor’s classes and students and guests who attended the forum to gain their perspective on this professor and this incident and why it was not brought to the attention of university executives sooner.”
Many, however, believe that a mere suspension does not send a strong enough message to those calling for activists to be hung.
Pastor Warren Stewart Jr. wrote in a Facebook post, “My heart is broken, not because GCU is our enemy, but they claim to be our brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters please stop avoiding talking about ways racism… makes us uncomfortable.”