In his November 28th address to the United Nations on International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Marc Lamont Hill, Steve Charles Professor of Media, Cities, and Solutions at Temple University, courageously advocated for the human rights of Palestinians. In so doing, Hill insisted on need for a global community of concerned citizens to take action in assuring Palestinian people were not exceptions from being afforded the most basic of freedoms, particularly those disclosed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Following his address, however, CNN publicly stated the network was severing ties with Professor Hill. Now, in addition to Hill’s dismissal from the news network, Patrick O’Connor, who serves as chair of the Temple University Board of Trustees , remarked that Hill’s speech “blackens [Temple University’s] name unnecessarily” and that “The board's not happy. The administration's not happy. People wanted to fire him right away” in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. Although a university spokesperson acknowledged Hill’s constitutionally protected right to free speech as a private citizen, Richard Englert, the university’s president, sent out official communication stating the university condemns hate speech and reinforced the point that Professor Hill’s comments do not reflect the university’s beliefs. Altogether, the comments and efforts to create distance between the University and Professor Hill raise serious questions of potential, future infringements on his academic freedom.
Letter of support for Dr. Hill’s Right to Academic Freedom
On December 1st, the Scholars for Black Lives collective called on college and university students, administrators, and faculty to #standwithmlh by adding their names as signatories to an open letter of solidarity and in support of Professor Hill’s academic freedom and right to free speech as a concerned citizen. Within one week of launching our campaign, more than 500 signatories from 235 institutions around the world signed our letter, which will be sent to Temple University’s 36-member Board of Trustees as well as President Englert. Although the petition is now closed for typesetting the formal letter, we encourage continued support by amplifying the #standwithmlh hashtag on social media and disseminating content from our working digital toolkit.