Vandy distances itself from black prof's criticisms of BLM

Amber Athey
Investigative Reporter

  • Vanderbilt University is distancing itself from one of its professors after she criticized the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, insisting her views do not represent those of the university.
  • Carol Swain, an African-American Law professor at VU, condemned the BLM movement as "pure Marxism" that relies on "buzzwords" like "state violence" and "genocide."
  • Image: Facebook

    Vanderbilt University is distancing itself from one of its professors after she criticized the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, insisting her views do not represent those of the university.

    Carol Swain, an African-American Law professor at VU, slammed BLM in a CNN interview Saturday, calling it a “very destructive force in America” that promotes division and violence.

    “I don’t like what I see. [BLM] is pure Marxism.”   

    “I don’t like what I see,” she said. “It’s pure Marxism; it talks about state violence, genocide; all of those are buzzwords that are quite destructive.”

    Swain also condemned the media and BLM’s quick “rush to judgment” surrounding the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, explaining that “videos don’t tell the entire story...we have to look at the credibility of the witnesses, we need to not rush to judgment, and I find the media, they’re putting too much focus on the videos before we have the facts.”

    CNN host Michael Smerconish asked Swain during the interview if the Dallas police shootings signaled the end of BLM, to which she responded, “I would hope so...It’s not really addressing the real problems facing African Americans and so it’s problematic, it’s misleading black people, it needs to go.”

    Predictably, the interview sparked backlash across social media, with many condemning both Swain and VU.

    “I want to thank Professor Carol Swain for letting us know that Vanderbilt is not the place for our young people to study law,” one tweet by radio host Barry Jackson mockingly stated.

    “I pray for any Black law student that has to sit in the classroom of Carol Swain at Vanderbilt University,” said another from Miami City Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon, who added, “Do better Vanderbilt.”

    The firestorm led Vanderbilt to release a statement Sunday distancing itself from Swain’s comments.

    “Professor Swain’s views are her own and in no way represent those of the university. Vanderbilt University is committed to diversity, inclusion and freedom from discrimination,” the statement reads. “Ensuring that our campus is a safe, welcoming, and supportive environment for every member of the Vanderbilt community has been, and will always be, our top priority. Vanderbilt joins the nation in mourning Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five officers killed in Dallas Thursday.”

    This is not the first time Swain has been at odds with Vanderbilt. In November, students created a petition urging VU to suspend Swain and require all professors to participate in diversity training, citing opinions Swain had expressed on social media that they deemed to be “espousing hate towards minorities.”

    [RELATED: Black Vanderbilt prof. Latest target of racial protests]

    The petition, which currently has over 2,000 signatures, claims Swain is “synonymous with bigotry, intolerance, and unprofessionalism,” citing “student allegations of unprofessional intimidation on social media, discriminatory practices in the classroom, and unclear representation as a Public Figure with invocations of the Vanderbilt name on her Facebook page.”

    Swain defended her opinions on her Facebook account, writing, “I will share my views as long as the media comes to me. I would do the nation a disservice if I simply parroted a predictable party line.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @amber_athey





    Amber Athey

    Amber Athey

    Investigative Reporter

    Amber Athey is an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and Economics, and is currently a member of the 2016-2017 Koch Associate Program. 

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