Cory Menafee, a dishwasher at the Calhoun residential college at Yale University, used a broom handle to punch out a stained glass window that depicted slaves carrying cotton. Menafee, an African American who is a graduate of historically Black Virginia Union University in Richmond, was arrested and resigned from his job at the college. Later the university said it would not advocate prosecuting the case and would rehire the worker after a five-week unpaid suspension.
In an interview with the New Haven Independent, Menafee called the incident an act of civil disobedience. “I took a broomstick, and it was kind of high, and I climbed up and reached up and broke it,” he told the newspaper. “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.’” he added.
In 1932, Calhoun College was named after John C. Calhoun, vice president of the United States under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Calhoun, an 1804 graduate of Yale, was a leading defender of the institution of slavery. Recently, Yale decided not to remove Calhoun’s name from the residential college.
Yale said that the stained glass windows in the common room at the residential college depicting scenes from Calhoun’s life would be removed, conserved for future study, and possibly included in a future exhibition.