An adjunct professor at Essex County College, in New Jersey, was suspended two days after her appearance as a political commentator on the Fox News program Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Lisa Durden, who is also a talk-show host and pop-culture commentator, appeared on Mr. Carlson’s show this month to discuss a Memorial Day event hosted by Black Lives Matter organizers that was open only to black attendees. Although Ms. Durden did not disclose her affiliation with Essex County College on the show, a columnist at The Star-Ledger reported that she had been subsequently suspended “until further notice” in a letter signed by Jeffrey Lee, the college’s vice president for academic affairs.
The letter did not mention Ms. Durden’s appearance on the Fox News show, but she said administrators had told her that someone complained that she had revealed her association with the college, according to The Star-Ledger.
Ms. Durden was scheduled to teach mass communications and popular culture and effective-speech courses in the coming academic year.
Following Ms. Durden’s suspension, faculty members and students created a change.org petition calling for her reinstatement. It had been signed by more than 740 people as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Professor Durden has braved racist death threats from the alt-right movement to speak truth to power on national television. Why is Essex County College firing a beloved professor for exercising her First Amendment right?” the petition stated. “In Trump’s America are black women professors not allowed the right to free speech?”
In an interview with the the Star-Ledger columnist, Barry Carter, Mr. Lee said he was “not at liberty to provide further details” about Ms. Durden’s suspension but said that the college’s general counsel had handled the case in compliance with New Jersey state law. A representative of Essex County College did not immediately respond to a request from The Chronicle for comment.
Before her appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Ms. Durden had been a guest on Fox and Friends and The Kelly File, with Megyn Kelly, according to The Star-Ledger.