UPenn Students Take Down Shakespeare Portrait, Replace With Black Female Poet

Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP Photo
Students at the University of Pennsylvania took matters into their own hands this month when they removed a portrait of William Shakespeare from a hallway in Fisher-Bennett Hall and replaced it with a photo of Audre Lorde, a black female poet and civil rights activist. They did this in pursuit of a more inclusive curriculum in response to the election.

The student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, reports that after an English Department town hall meeting on December 1 about the results of the election, students removed the portrait and placed it in the office of Department Chair Jed Esty. This action comes a few years after the English Department originally voted to relocate and replace the portrait in favor of more diverse options. Students, however, were tired of waiting, and Esty had no qualms with their actions.

“Students removed the Shakespeare portrait and delivered it to my office as a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department,” Esty wrote in a statement via email. He then assured students that the photo of Lorde will remain until an official decision has been made about what to do with the space.

The students involved, and the positive reaction on campus, prove that despite the negativity in the air right now, America's desire for diversity and change hasn't dissipated. This is just one of many ways people are taking responsibility and stepping up.
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